A Heritage of Power 3: Jay's Story 1:
Lost Kitten Found
by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for Rough M/F
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file
Doruth Parn's eyes shifted as he walked down the crowded, filthy streets of Nar Shaddaa's slums. Normally he didn't like coming back down here, but he hadn't been doing particularly well at the sabacc tables lately. He couldn't afford all that much more than a room in the slums at this point. He'd have to either get off the planet soon, or start winning his card games.
Preferably the latter.
The Panther's ears twitched as he heard shouts from a few blocks away. He continued walking on, trying to ignore it. It wasn't the first time, or be the last, that he'd heard the sounds of violence down here. Not by a long shot.
About ten paces later he paused and shook his head. It also wasn't the first time he'd do something stupid trying to help whoever the victim was. He turned and bolted for the sounds of the fight, hoping he hadn't wasted too much time already.
About a block away, six large Wolves were gathered around a scrawny, dark furred feline, not even in his teens yet.
"Didn't your ma ever teach you not to steal from people bigger than you are, kid?" One of them growled.
Instead of answering, the kit twisted and dived out of the way of a blow he shouldn't have seen coming and growled back, his shaggy tail lashing and his ears flat as he faced off against the superior opponent. Of them, only Doruth recognized the early combat training and more that was crouched there in the ally.
Training and talent aside, against six opponents who were bigger than he was meant his odds weren't very good. Especially since they'd probably been fighting and killing down here for almost as long as the kit had been alive.
"Back off," Doruth said firmly, resting his hand on the grip of the blaster at his hip.
"Keep yer nose outta this," the Wolf snarled, turning to glare at the Panther behind him, his partners keeping an eye on the kit.
He knew what was going through the Wolf's mind. Doruth was wearing the light outfit common to a smuggler, a heavy blaster pistol at his hip. Even with the blaster, he was only one person; easy pickings for the gang at first glance. "The brat's a thief; we're just makin' sure he learns his lesson."
"Some lessons aren't worth teaching. I doubt he stole much from you, and he probably needs it more than any of you do. Just walk away; a bunch of strong, healthy Wolves like you six can probably earn it back before he has a chance to spend it." Doruth spoke calmly and precisely, reaching out with his mind to put some extra force behind the words. For a moment, he thought it was going to work.
"You think you can take us, Blackie?"
Doruth growled, his expression darkening. He hated it when people called him that, and he hated bullies like this even more.
"Easily." He replied sharply. "The question is if I have to. I'm not in the mood to kill today."
"You're not the one who'll be doin' the killing." The Wolf's hand went for the blaster he wore even as the kit took advantage of the distraction to work his way out of the circle.
It was all the excuse Doruth needed. His own blaster was in his hand in a flash, spinning up so the grip was in line with the barrel. He shifted slightly to the right as the Wolf fired, the shot missing by a matter of inches. Before the Panther had taken his next breath, his 'blaster' emitted the meter-long blade of energy that each of the thugs recognized instantly for what it was and what it meant the Panther was.
Then he was in the middle of the thugs in a flash, his electric-blue blade flashing skillfully. Graceful spins and well-practiced strikes created a glowing spiral of death that left three of the thugs, including the one who'd drawn the blaster, dead, the others fleeing for their lives. Doruth allowed himself a vicious half-grin as he watched the last one fall, but caught himself before the kit in the back of the alley had seen it.
He realized without looking that he was too late. The kit's sharp eyes had been locked on the battle as soon as the blade came out, but more, he was watching with a focus and attention through the Force that was as unnerving as a Master.
Doruth extinguished his blade, flipping the handle down into the less conspicuous shape of a blaster, and turned to look at the rust-brown kit that was in serious need of a few good meals and a bath.
"You okay?" He asked softly, taking a couple steps closer after he holstered his 'blaster.' He was almost surprised that the kit wasn't worried about him. No matter what he knew about Jedi, it was unusual to say the least for a street-kit to react the way this one did.
"Yeah," he smiled up at him with manners that had been taught young and not completely forgotten yet. "I'm Jay. Thank you."
"You're welcome," Doruth replied easily. He looked down at the bodies, but decided against rifling their pockets for credits. Jay probably had enough bad habits now. Habits the Panther knew from experience could be risky if he was right about him.
Habits that Jay clearly already had from the way he went through the dead thugs' pockets after a glance at the Panther, offering him first dibs before displaying an expertise well beyond his experience to find the credits and a few odds and ends the kit deemed useful.
"Why don't we get out of here before whoever these thugs worked for decides to come looking for them, okay Jay? Get you something to eat."
"Sounds great," he grinned agreeably and looked up at the big tom. "What's your name?"
"Doruth Parn," the Panther answered and sighed inwardly. Jay'd spent way too long on the streets already, from the looks of it. "You have a home to go back to some time, Jay, or are you a street kit?" He asked, starting out and back towards the main streets.
"Street, 'long as I'm stuck in this galaxy." He shrugged easily and fell in near Doruth, who looked down at him with a surprised expression.
"This galaxy?" He asked dubiously.
"Yeah, one of my projects went screwy on me and dropped me here while back." He nodded as if it was a perfectly normal statement. "Back home hasn't met the Republic or any of the rest out here yet."
"Okay," the Panther nodded, not quite sure what to make of that. After all, as far as he knew, even the fastest hyperdrives took weeks to make any sort of trip near the galactic rim, let alone intergalactic. The idea of a kit barely old enough to become a Padawan managing to accidentally send himself from one galaxy to another....
As much as Doruth preferred to believe that luck did affect some things, this was an extreme enough situation that his training had him immediately wondering just what the Force had in store for Jay's future as they walked along, not as odd a pair by appearance as they were in reality.
Before long, they had made it back to the 'pub' Doruth was staying in, more of a flophouse with an open space for locals to drink.
"Stay close," he warned the young kit. "It's safer in here than the streets, but that's very much a relative statement."
"Everything is," Jay quipped back, but did as he was told.
"Very true," Doruth chuckled slightly, walking up to the bar and pulling a flask out of his hip pocket. "I'll take a refill, and we need two meals with drinks."
"And you'll be paying for it today?" The Badger behind the bar asked suspiciously.
"I always settle my tab, Renkin," Doruth said. "It's not my fault if you lose it in a fair bet."
"Not today, Parn. Today you'd better have credits or leave the kit."
The look the Panther gave him said very plainly what he thought of the second option.
"I've got the credits," he said simply. The Badger took the flask, filling it up with a deep blue liquid and handed it back to Doruth before he led Jay to a table in the corner. As much as they didn't look too out of place on the streets, in here they stood out easily.
So, how long have you been here," Doruth asked Jay quietly, keeping an eye out for signs of trouble and couldn't help but notice the natural way the kit did the same.
"Couple years, I think," he answered easily, eager to have someone to talk with. "Keeping time hasn't been my top priority."
"I imagine not," the Panther chuckled slightly. "Never was for me. Where'd you come from?" He asked. Maybe with a description he could find out if the kit was just mistaken about how far away it was.
The question drew a chuckle and shake of the kit's head. "My nominal homeworld is called Aristal. It's in an arm of a spiral galaxy we started exploring late in my grandmother's time. My folks were born on Aristal, but they went with the third expeditionary fleet when it launched and then continued on with the eighth fleet when it left from the Juquisal colony. I was born a few years after that. But that little oops that dropped me here was when we were in a colonization cycle on Damital."
"So you're a spacer, huh?" That could explain how the kid was working with something that had dropped him that far away. None of the names were familiar, but Doruth knew a little bit about how things usually worked on a colony ship. Everybody did something, even the kits. If he was being trained to work with the hyperdrive, it just might have worked out that he'd managed to blind-jump himself. "Lucky you ended up planetside when that little 'oops' happened. At least I'm guessing it didn't bring your whole ship with you."
"It wasn't even attached to a ship at that point," he grumbled. "And no, none of it came either. I'd be home if it had."
"Good with hyperdrives, huh?" Doruth asked, as their food was brought out along with drinks for both of them; the same dark blue liquid the Badger had filled the Panther's flask with for him and a dark amber juice for Jay.
"Good with pretty much anything tech," he chuckled. "Like that weapon you've got."
"I'd suggest not asking what anything's made of," the Panther chuckled slightly. "It's edible, but Hutt worlds are rarely safe ones to ask for recipes on."
"Hey, I've been eating its leftovers for a couple years, this is an upgrade." Jay smirked and dug in with perfect survival instincts for questionable fare.
"I've watched Hutts eat," he chuckled. "I don't think they do leftovers." He thought for a few minutes, eating at a much more relaxed pace. Unless he was grossly mistaken, Jay had a talent for working with the Force. Maybe another time he would have managed to drop himself on Coruscant or another Core world and receive the training he needed. As it was, Doruth's own training was practically screaming at him that he couldn't just leave him to learn entirely on his own. Especially not on this world.
"How'd you like to get off this planet?" He asked and instantly had Jay's undivided attention, the food an abrupt second priority.
"What do I have to do?" He asked simply.
"Help me get my ship back in flying shape," Doruth said easily. "That's the big one. It's not a very big ship, but I'd rather find a way to make it work than end up in debt to a crime lord for a 'new' one again."
The kit cocked his head, and then nodded. "I'll see what I can do with it."
"Just try and keep us in this galaxy," Doruth chuckled slightly. "It'd be a good thing for at least one of us to know about where we are."
"I'll try," he nodded seriously. "I'm not sure what I did last time, so I'm not sure how not to repeat it."
"Y'know Jay," Doruth smiled, "for a kit who's been on the streets of Nar Shaddaa for a couple years, you're pretty good about trusting people."
He ducked his head instantly, somewhere between blushing and kicking himself for it. "Guess I'm easy to bribe." He murmured in embarrassment. "But my instincts aren't usually that wrong either." He glanced up, a bit more serious. "And if you aren't a Jedi, well, I've picked up enough to know running wouldn't have gotten me very far from them."
"If you'd wanted to, it would've gotten you away from me," Doruth said softly. "And no, I'm not Jedi. Not any more, at least. Just couldn't stand by and watch those Wolves hurt you."
Jay looked at him funnily, the statement not quite computing even as it scared the hell out of him. "You're Sith?" He whispered, shaking just a bit as his breath caught in his throat and his shaggy tail curled up in front of him.
"No!" Doruth kept his voice low, but the force behind the statement was clear and seemed to calm the kit significantly. "I've never been that far gone, Jay. I was trained as a Jedi," he explained, "I'm just not one any more."
That earned him another confused look. "Is this an adult thing I'll get when I'm older?" He finally asked as he calmed down.
"Or when I have a better time and place to explain it," Doruth nodded. "If you want me to. Just not here."
"Okay," Jay nodded and went back to work on his meal. "Is your ship nearby?"
"Fairly close," Doruth nodded. "Once I have enough credits to pay for our meals and my back docking fees, we can go there if you'd like."
"How much is that?" He asked quietly.
"The meal's about thirty cred's," Doruth explained. "That I can cover. The docking fees... that's a bit more. About two-thousand by now, once you get through the fees and anybody I have to bribe to get them to 'remember' that the ship's really mine."
"I think I pulled that much off the Wolves and a few others today," he offered a little hesitantly, fingering the electronic chips in his pocket and asking them nicely to shift a few bits of data.
As usual, they were reluctant at best.
"I'd wait a bit to make that offer," Doruth told him quietly, even as Jay managed to convince the chips to do what he wanted them to. "I should be able to get it together. Besides," he chuckled slightly, "if they were carrying that much I'd be very surprised. Thank you for the offer though," he smiled, looking around the room to see what sorts of games were being played. The corner of his mouth quirked up in a slight smile as he noticed a fellow hustler in the corner, running a chance-cube scam much like the ones the Panther had run before his Master had found him.
"Okay," he nodded and followed the Panther's gaze, not nearly so sure what was going to happen.
"Go ahead and finish your lunch, Jay," Doruth told him reassuringly, picking up his glass. "And mine, if you're hungry enough," he winked, standing up from his seat. "I've got to go to work for a little bit."
"Okay," he nodded again and alternated between munching down on what was on the table and watching Doruth in a mixture of fascination and confusion. As he watched, the Panther struck up a conversation with the Rabbit standing in the corner. He couldn't make out everything they were saying, but he could tell that Doruth was making some sort of a bet. The Rabbit went along with him, and Jay really couldn't be sure what Doruth was thinking.
But, as he watched, every time the cubes were rolled, he had the inexplicable feeling that Doruth knew exactly what the result would be just before they landed.
The truth was, the Panther did. The game was simple enough, especially from the Rabbit's point of view. Two sets of chance-cubes, each rigged to land a different way. Two red was a loss, two blues a win, one of each tied. Start out by giving the mark a winning streak, reel him in ... then switch cubes, and take him for everything he was willing to throw at it.
The problem was, Doruth wasn't losing when he was supposed to. Each time he put down more money, each time the Rabbit rolled the cubes that were supposed to put every credit in his pocket ... and every time they came up wrong. The times they did come up like they were supposed to the Panther's bet would have dropped significantly.
Three hours later, the Panther had lost about a tenth of his bets, tied three-fourths of them, and won the rest. But, by the time he linked his cred-stick to the Rabbit's, he was leaving the crooked gambler short a solid half his bankroll. He walked back to the table, stopping off at the bar to pay for their meals. The Rabbit was examining his chance cubes in disbelief, rolling them time and again like he was trying to figure out if they were broken.
"Ready to go?" Doruth asked.
"That was an interesting trick," Jay nodded and slipped from his chair, having finished the food some time before.
"Not something I like to do too often," Doruth admitted quietly as they left. "But when it's a con-artist who's making his money by posing as a real gambler, I don't mind as much." They started to make their way up from the slums to the better parts of the city. "I think it's similar to how you work with machines so well."
"Really?" He looked surprised. "The machine-thing is a family talent." He half explained. "I thought the Force was something different."
"So you know about the Force?" Doruth asked him. "And it might be different. But Force talents run in family lines very often."
"Just talk here and there," Jay ducked his head a bit. "It's what Jedi use to fight, and why they can use a lightsaber and normal folks can't."
"That's part of it," Doruth nodded. "What most people think it is. But there is more. If you'd like," he offered as a lift carried them up near the docks, "I think I could teach you more about it."
"Sure," he nodded and smiled up at the tom that looked so much like the hologram his father kept of his father. "It's not just physical effects then?"
"Oh no," Doruth said easily. "Not just physical. Bloodline, the physical part of things is a part of it; you have to have the gift to learn to truly use it. But there is more to it than that. And I think you do have the gift, unless I miss my mark. Which is possible," the Panther admitted.
"I have gifts," Jay told him simply. "This one is cool, but it's not the end of the world if I don't have it like you think."
"Sorry," Doruth chuckled slightly. "Just don't want to get your hopes up, then have you find out I was wrong. To be fair," he admitted quietly, stepping off the lift with a more sober tone, "I should probably take you back to Coruscant if I'm not."
Jay followed, taking a moment to place the name as the Republic's capitol world.
"If you are sensitive to the Force," Doruth explained quietly, "it'd be better for you to be trained by somebody who was qualified. Like I said; I was trained, but I'm no Jedi."
"Oh," he nodded and didn't really try to make sense of it this time as he filed it under 'things to ask later'. "What happened to your ship?"
"A pilot who's better at flying them than doing his own maintenance," the Panther admitted, ducking his head slightly and rubbing the back of his neck.
"So it's generally run down, no major battle damage?" Jay asked, apparently not perturbed by either option.
"Right," he nodded. "I've been doing my best, but at this point I'm losing track of what's original and what's one of my repairs."
"You won't recognize her when I'm done." He promised with a grin that was both a promise of quality work and a warning of a mischievous personality that knew how to make a machine work for him.
"Just make sure I can still fly her when you're done, or we're in the same boat for a different reason," Doruth chuckled, shaking his head. "And remember, I'll have to win our repair costs. C'mon," he said, pulling out his credstick as they approached the first of several officials between the entrance and his ship. "I'll show you what you've got to work with for now."
"Repair costs?" Jay looked at him funnily. "I thought you said she was still intact, just not working."
"Which usually means needing to buy parts to replace what isn't working," Doruth chuckled slightly. "The Kalrass doesn't have the resources to build replacement parts on like a lot of capital ships do."
"Oh," he nodded. "If it's there, it doesn't have to be bought again." Jay informed him. "Fixing stuff is what I do."
"All right," the Panther nodded, wondering just how accurate Jay's statement would end up being as they navigated their way through bureaucratic red tape and greed while Jay took it all in with bright, curious eyes that tended to watch the technology more than the people.
"Well, there she is," Doruth motioned to a craft that looked more like a large fighter than a ship meant to live in for any length of time.
"You're right, she needs some serious TLC." Jay nodded without any recrimination in his tone, just a critical eye for what needed to happen as he worked his way around the exterior of the craft, then over and even inside parts of the engine pods. It was the better part of two hours of touching and looking, mostly touching, before he slid down the side of the ship and walked inside with Doruth.
Even before the Panther could offer a tour the kit was off again with a purposeful gate that went right for the engine room to repeat his touching everything inspection by vision, knowledge, Force and that something odd he had as well.
Doruth followed him down. While Jay was inspecting the engines and everything else he could get his hands on, the Panther was watching him. He wasn't honestly sure how much was technical skill and how much was the Force... or what the rest of his talent was from. But it was fascinating to watch him at work, regardless of how he was doing it.
"Do you have any tools?" Jay asked without any visible sign that his inspection had shifted to repair mode.
"Yes," the Panther nodded, frowning a little, though more in surprised curiosity than disapproval. "You're ready to start pulling things apart already?"
"Yap," he nodded. "Getting everything back in shape will take a few days, maybe a week."
That clearly surprised the Panther. The computer's estimates had been that it would take a full crew that long to perform the maintenance and repairs necessary.
Still, it wasn't like he could do any more damage than Doruth already had himself.
The Panther opened up the storage panel near the door, and pulled out the tool kit.
"These look familiar?" He asked, offering the selection of tools to Jay.
"Some," he nodded with barely a glance at the box as his hand moved over the selection to pick one out and began to disassemble the hyperspace drive with a precision and care that surprised Doruth a bit. Each piece, even the covers, were handled in turn, Jay's fingers tracing over each object before it was put down.
As Jay worked, the pile of parts took on a kind of order that would have impressed the most anal retentive of mechanics, but the kit was doing it without seeming to think about it. His full attention was on the part he was handling and the natural power use that came instinctively to him.
The most surprising part to Doruth was that, looking at the parts that had been stacked; they appeared to be in virtually new condition. Years of damage, from general wear and tear, the occasional space battle, and frustrated amateur repair jobs, seemed to have never happened by the time Jay was done handling them.
The Panther had seen a lot of things in his life. This sort of miracle repair was not one of them; even top-of-the-line repair droids took longer than this to do half the work Jay already had.
Twelve hours later, Doruth walked back into the engine room carefully. He'd long ago left Jay to his devices; the kit seemed to have a better idea of what he was doing than the Panther ever would, so it only made sense. He'd spent some of that time splitting up the single quarters so they could share them, then spent a few hours meditating for the first time in what was probably far too long.
Eventually though, he decided that it was probably well past the point where Jay needed to be snapped out of his work for a little bit.
He was glad to see that the hyperdrive was back in one piece, and that they were still on the same planet. It wasn't hard to see what Jay had been working on since then; most of the parts hadn't looked that good when Doruth had gotten the ship, let alone earlier that day.
"Hey," he called, hoping to get Jay's attention without having to step through the stacks of parts and coils of wiring. "Jay, think it's time you took a break."
"I'm okay," the kit replied easy, his hands still moving.
Doruth was about to object when he recognized a shift in the Force of it slowly unwrapping its grip on the kit, much like coming out of a deep meditation. It was several minutes before Jay stood up and walked through his half-finished project in a bit of a daze.
"Working trance," the Panther murmured, recognizing the response from his own training. Jay was definitely a sensitive, and a powerful one at that to be tapping it the way he seemed to this early.
"Hungry?" He asked the kit, stepping back to let him through the door to the engine room.
"Mmm, yeah." He nodded as reality started to catch up with him. "Sounds good."
"C'mon," the Panther smiled. "I'll show you to our quarters. Only one crew compartment on the ship," he admitted sheepishly, "but it should be big enough."
"I don't doubt it." Jay chuckled a bit, looking much more with it as they walked.
"You really do get focused, don't you?" Doruth asked conversationally as they made the short trip to the crew quarters. A light curtain hanging just off to one side marked the division of the room. Bunks were mounted into the sidewalls, one on the open half, and presumably a matching one on the hidden side.
"When the work is that extensive, yeah." He nodded and hopped up on the bunk in the open with a grin. "It'll be cool having a real bed again."
"I'll bet," Doruth chuckled. "So Jay, did they use sonic showers on the ship you were on before you ended up on the streets?"
"Only when we had to," he made a face. "That's what this ship has?"
"Afraid so. Not really the space for a regular one. Didn't even have that before I won it off its last owner; Gamorrean smugglers don't exactly rate hygiene as a priority."
"Better than nothing," he nodded and regarded the well-groomed and healthy Panther thoughtfully. "Do you have pest killer? It'd be nice not to itch too."
"Unless you had something from back home, the dry-wash in the shower will do the trick," Doruth said easily. "Just use it like a shampoo; it towels off instead of rinsing."
"Okay," Jay nodded and slipped of the bunk to head for the small bathroom and it's sonic shower even though he hadn't been shown where it was yet, something Doruth didn't remember until after he heard the quiet but distinctive whine of the showers.
"I think I'll just assume he found the ship's layout while he was working for now," the Panther murmured, getting up to put something together for dinner.
Jay shivered in the raw pleasure of not having little things crawling over his skin after three very thorough scrubbings of the powder Doruth said to use. It felt almost as good to see his real fur colors when he looked down. But the best part was smelling like himself again. It wasn't as good as a water shower would have been, but it wasn't going to be anything he complained about anytime soon. It just felt too good to be himself physically again as well as mentally.
The Panther might not be kin, but he was nice enough and he needed Jay's help. That made just about anything worth putting up with. That added with being clean, well fed, a real bed and getting back in space was enough to make him ecstatic.
He didn't bother to stop the low sound of pleasure at being free of pests and dirt as he turned the shower off and stretched upwards before stepping out with the intent of searching for something clean to wear.
He almost jumped back to see Doruth standing there, a folded light brown bundle in his arms.
"Thought you might like something clean to wear," he explained, leaning down to offer the bundle to the rich brown kit marked with Tiger stripes Leopard rosettes that was his guest. "They should be close to your size; I'll pick up something a bit closer tomorrow while you're working."
"Thanks," Jay smiled and accepted them, not the least bit concerned that he was standing there naked as he made quick work of getting dressed in the loose cream and brown pants and robes. They were a bit big, but certainly a better fit that the adult clothes he'd expected to have to use.
"That should work for the night," the Panther nodded approvingly. "I put your old clothes to be cleaned, I'll see about mending them after that if you want. They're in pretty good shape for what they've been through."
"Great-grandfather Jake was very good at such things," Jay grinned. "He hated to sew, so he created uniforms that didn't require much after they were made. I think I smell dinner too." He looked up hopefully.
"Well, I can tell your nose is working," Doruth chuckled. "Hope you don't mind eating in our quarters. It's there, or back here," he explained, "and the bunks are a lot more comfortable than supply crates."
"I bet," he grinned and happily padded along at Doruth's side. "So what are the other things I have to do to get off this world?"
"What do you mean?" Doruth asked, looking down at the much shorter kit.
"You said fixing the ship was ' the big one' I had to do to get off this world," Jay almost quoted from when they ate that first meal together. "What is the rest?"
"That was before either of us could get off," Doruth said, chuckling slightly. "Sorry, I'm not always the clearest when I'm talking. You don't have to do anything beyond the ship. Though if you'd like, I could start training you with how to use the Force. I might not be the best teacher, but I could get you started at least."
"That would be after I fix the ship," Jay said firmly. "I want out of here."
"Understood, and agreed," Doruth smiled, leading Jay into their shared quarters. He handed the kit a plate of what looked like fried meats and fruits cut up into finger-food sized pieces.
"You cook better than the last meal," Jay grinned and dug in with a relish, though he did make an effort to chew before swallowing and enjoyed the tingle of having completely clean fur and clothing almost as much as a tasty meal and full belly.
"I wish," the Panther grinned, eating his own more slowly. "I have a friend who works in the kitchen for one of the local politicians. Sometimes I can mooch off of him."
"Good friend to have," he grinned back and licked his muzzle to get every last bit of the food between bites. "What do you do when you aren't stuck on a planet?"
"Mostly find another planet, touch down, and stick around until I get sick of it or debt collectors come after me," he chuckled slightly. "I have to admit, I'm more of a professional drifter these days. Sabacc usually keeps my tabs settled, keeps me from ending up totally on the outs, but I'm not quite a good enough pilot to be a smuggler and I try to stay out of fights most of the time." Doruth pulled the flask out of his pocket and took a drink from it, making a mental note to make sure he had enough supplies that Jay could drink without getting hammered.
"Don't you ... do ... anything?" The kit asked, at a real loss of understanding for the Panther's life. "Want to do something?"
"I haven't for a long time," Doruth said, leaning back and thinking. "I wanted to, but that all fell apart."
Jay stilled, his meal not quite finished as he realized what he was wearing. "These were yours, weren't they?" He asked quietly.
"Yeah," Doruth admitted. "Hope you don't mind hand-me-downs. They didn't fall apart until I'd grown out of those by a fair amount," he chuckled slightly.
"I'm happy for anything clean," the kit nodded seriously. "What happened?"
"The impossible, if you ask the Jedi," Doruth said, the chuckle having a slightly bitter tone to it. "Or at least the extremely improbable. My Master fell to the Dark Side, while I was taking the Tests. Nobody knew until he tried to turn the outpost on Dantooine into a smoking crater."
"They kicked you out for something he did?" Jake frowned, not getting it on multiple levels.
"No," Doruth said softly. "I stopped him. I was the hero of the day; they were going to waive my last test, give me my Knighthood, and declare me ready to train a Padawan of my own. Nobody seemed to care how I stopped him. I did the one thing a Jedi can't afford to do, and I got away with it. They didn't kick me out, Jay... I left, in the end. I'm not fit to be Jedi. My Master proved that, just before I blew up the ship he was using."
"Maybe that was your real test," the kit pointed out, drawing from a family history rife with such events, even if they usually ended differently. "Whether or not you could be true to your beliefs when you didn't have to be."
"If it was, then damned if I know if I passed or failed," the Panther chuckled slightly. "It's why I'm not sure if I'd be a good teacher for you though. Everybody who uses the Force has to deal with the darker parts of it. When I dealt with them, they won. They came very, very close to consuming me that day."
Jay cocked his head. "Sounds a lot like what Dad and Grandma calls The Demons of our Gift. Some of us chose never to use their full potential so they didn't have to fight it."
"How much do you know about this?" Doruth asked. It sounded too much like the Dark Side... and like it might have a healthy hold on Jay's bloodline.
"My family history and the Gift?" He asked. "As much as anybody who wasn't there. It's one of the first things a Clawson is taught."
"Would you mind telling me more about it, some time? There might be ways to make fighting it easier, when you reach the point where you have to choose."
"Sure," he nodded easily, proud of his heritage. "Only one's ever lost to the Demon, though the next four generations have all said it's been close at one point or another. And at least in one timeline, one branch of the family, the half that aren't Clawsons, don't have problems after two generations, but they can't do nearly as much as we can either."
"At least in one timeline?" It was beginning to sound more and more like displacing himself by a galaxy or three by accident wasn't entirely unusual for Jay's family.
"Yeah," he chuckled a bit. "Grandma Jessie got dragged to the future by a time-mage that didn't like what had happened the first time around. He wanted her to pick up enough in that time to defeat the aliens that had ruined things and where still trying to kill everybody. She did, big time; brought an inter-galactic colony combat cruiser back to her time that wasn't even in the space age yet. She also brought back a cousin who was her father's ... great great great granddaughter ... by a shekat who snuck some of his sperm and used it to get pregnant four years after he died in both timelines. The line that descended from Miss Briggs doesn't have nearly the problems, but doesn't have nearly our gifts either.
Doruth was quiet for a moment, trying to absorb that.
"I think I'm either going to have to stop drinking, or start drinking harder," he decided after a moment, shaking his head. "I've heard of some strange things happening, but I think your family would consider this galaxy tame by comparison."
Jay giggled, then dissolved into laughter and ended with his plate set on the floor and him in a ball of mirth on the bunk.
"Oh, kats, you have had such a tame life." He continued to snicker, his grin almost breaking his face. "That was nothing. Great Grandpa Jake's life was way more crazy."
"I'm not sure I want to know," Doruth laughed. "Around here, your story's about as unusual as a lot of them come. From the sound of it, you're nowhere near the rest of your kin yet."
"Nah, probably never will be." He chuckled and retrieved his plate to finish his food. "It gets a little less interesting, and less powerful, with each generation. Assuming I don't breed up the family line like what happened to make Grandma Jessie, there's probably only three or four more generations that'll be more than talented. The Gift will probably be gone then."
"For better or for worse, I wouldn't bet on it too heavily," Doruth pointed out. "Gifts like that seem to have a habit of coming back full strength when they're least expected to."
Jay cocked his head, considering that. "Possible. It'd hardly be the weirdest thing to happen with us. The pattern has held true in both family lines though. And I really doubt any of us would make the same deal that got us the Gift in the first place again."
"Deal?" The Panther asked, cocking his head slightly.
"Yeah," he nodded, not nearly so enthusiastic about this part of his family history. "The first one with the Gift was named Jermain Tabisan, but he went by Dark Kat for most of his life that amounted to anything. Dark in the same way you mean it too. He made a deal with some creature for his Gift, but it didn't work out like he expected. It drove him insane, made him the worst Omega in history. It got really ugly then, 'cause his son, my great grandfather Jake Clawson, had grown up without him, and went into the Enforcers. It was the fight we all have inside laid out in a way for everybody to see, and they learned to fear us."
"That's... odd," the Panther said quietly. Of course, being from a different galaxy, it was to be expected that not everything would work out the same. It sounded almost like some of the stories of Exar Kun and the Sith ... but with a twist that let it affect the family as well. The more he thought about it, the more he felt convinced that, one day, Jay would have to be taken to Coruscant, for his own good if nothing else. "Whatever the power came from, it may not have the ability to reach this far," he pointed out to the rusty-furred kit.
"It's in our blood. If it couldn't come with me, I wouldn't have been able to fix as much of the engine room as I have," Jay replied simply. "That's the Gift in action. Well, it's one of its major abilities I can access at least."
"So it's more a matter of when, than of if," Doruth mused. It had to be rough, being that young and knowing you'd have to face something that had nearly ruined so many in your family.
"Yeah, full access usually comes around puberty," he nodded, apparently at ease with it. "Two, three more years before it's even an option. Unless I'm desperate enough that I manage it younger."
"Well, with any luck you won't have any reason to be that desperate," the Panther said reassuringly. "I, for one, prefer to avoid that sort of trouble."
"Yeah, but when you have a Clawson around, trouble hunts you." The kit said softly. "There is only so much avoiding you can do."
"If that's the case, then we'll deal with it as we have to. I try to stay out of trouble, but I can handle it when I have to," Doruth explained with the confidence of somebody who knew that what he was saying was true. It earned him a small smile and a bit of relief from the kit that had half expected to be put out.
"Yeah, we will." He held back a yawn as 'tired' took over from 'filthy' and 'hungry' as his predominant reality.
"Why don't you get some sleep, Jay," Doruth smiled. "You could probably use it. It's safe here; you can rest."
"Sounds good," he mumbled and grabbed the blanket to pull it over himself as he curled into a tight ball near the pillow and was all but asleep in a few breaths.
Even as Doruth stood to make the arrangements for when they left, he blinked at the seemingly empty, unmade bunk. A moment of staring and he realized that the kit had created a 'blanket' of Force-suggestion over himself to hide his presence. He had a feeling his life had suddenly become a lot more interesting.
Doruth was deep in a mental inventory of what they had by way of supplies already, what they still needed, and trying not to continuously shake his head at what the kit kept doing to his ship with nothing but time and food in just two days and what it would look like by the end of the week.
"So what are your hobbies?" Jay asked him out of nowhere between bites.
"Hmm?" The Panther looked back at Jay, surprised more by the fact that the kit was breaking out of his focus than by the question. "Depends on what you consider a hobby, I suppose," he admitted. "Most of what I do these days is part hobby, part work or practice. Closest to just being a hobby would probably be my combat training," he chuckled slightly. "And you probably don't want to know what most people who hear that say."
"Probably about the same thing that folks say when they ask a Clawson what we do for fun and the answer is 'working on the jet'." He giggled. "Though most of the adults add 'sex' to that." He cocked his head a bit. "Don't you enjoy anything that isn't about survival?"
"The combat training isn't just survival, Jay," Doruth chuckled slightly. "Of course, neither are the cards. I guess you might call it a habit I've still got from my training. Hobbies are usually something the Jedi use to help bring them closer to the Force, more than something they do simply to relax. Meditation, gardening, reading... for me, it worked out to be 'saber training. It helps me clear out distractions, focus, even relax."
That left Jay a little perplexed, and more than a little frustrated as his attempt to understand the Panther failed.
"So this life you have is everything you want?" He tried another track.
"That I'm a little less sure of," Doruth admitted. "I've done pretty well for a street kit, but I've always wanted to do more to make things better."
Jay nodded, understanding that on an intrinsic level all too well. "Are there less corrupt worlds in the Republic?"
"Much less," Doruth smiled. "Nar Shaddaa's about the lowest you can get. Once you get out of Hutt space, the corruption levels shoot down fast. Not that there isn't some corruption on most worlds, but not where the entire world runs on it. I was meaning to ask you about that, actually; what type of world would you like to try and go to first?"
Jay cursed internally at the question. He didn't know nearly enough yet to know what would draw the Panther into something he'd enjoy more than just making ends meet.
"I'm not sure," he admitted the truth. "Most of what I'm interested would either bore you to no end, go way over your head, or probably cost way too much right now. Mostly I just want away from what's here."
"That I can do easily enough," Doruth smiled, thinking of places that would provide a shift from the slums Jay was probably used to by now. "How do you like forests?"
"As long as it doesn't involve a lot of raw meat," he chuckled. "Camping is fun."
"Nah," Doruth grinned. "I can at least cook well enough to keep us from having to eat raw dinners. Think I know a few good places for us to go then, at least to get started. There are a lot of beautiful places in the galaxy once you get away from the city and industrial worlds."
"Cool," Jay grinned. That would give him plenty of time to see Doruth outside an environment that had gambling and what the Panther's life contained right now. "I haven't gotten to see many wilderness worlds that were safe to camp on."
"Safe is very much relative," Doruth chuckled. "Some of them are safer than most of the civilized worlds, others you don't sleep on without leaving an armed guard unless you're not worried about being eaten. I know a place that's nicely out of the way; spent a few months there when I was younger, so I know we wouldn't be too likely to get turned into panthac fodder."
"Sounds good," Jay grinned at him, pleased with the idea on a lot of levels. "A few days and the ship'll be ready to go."
"That's great," Doruth grinned. "You know, it really is a miracle what you've been able to do here," he said gratefully as Jay ducked his head a bit in self-consciousness.
"The ship remembers what she was," he said softly. "It's a huge help that I don't have to figure out what something used to be, then figure out how to make it do what I need it to do. Everything here wants to do what it was meant to do; it just needs a little help to clean up the mess time and wear and tear created."
"You can talk to the ship?" Doruth asked. It was an odd concept, given that as far as he knew there'd never been any sort of intelligence installed into it. Of course, he was hardly an expert on the subject.
"If it's manufactured or crafted, I can talk to it," he nodded. "It's how I get it to do what I want. I ask."
"I don't suppose there's any way you could apologize for the damage I've managed to do trying to keep her spaceworthy?"
"She knows," Jay smiled at him. "She wishes you'd gotten real maintenance to do the work more often, but she understands you do what you can."
"That's good," Doruth chuckled. "I'd hate to have the ship mad at me."
"You've never have gotten this far," Jay grinned at him. "Besides, you're a lot more respectful than her last owner."
"I think I'd have to try not to be," Doruth smirked. "You wouldn't believe how long it took to get the smell of pig out of this place. So, how do you like it here?"
"It's not home, but it's a lot better than the last two years." He nodded. "Company's better too."
"Thanks," the Panther smiled. "It's pretty good having somebody else around here too," he admitted, finishing up his dinner and watching as Jay curled up for a long nap under his Force-blanket as well as the physical one before going back to work.
Four days into repairs and Doruth was starting to wonder if there was anything that kit couldn't do with technology. He wasn't even finished and the Kalrass was already capable of outclassing her original specs and quite a few other ships it shouldn't be able to touch as well.
He shook his head slightly as worked through the streets to a market to get the last of the supplies they'd need for the trip to Mantessa and a nice long, relaxing stay there. He had to admit that it would be a pleasant break from the slums his life has been comprised of recently. A ripple in the Force abruptly took his full attention from his musings. A sensitive with some training was calling on its assistance and needed it badly.
"Well, I've already gotten in one fight this week," he muttered, taking off at a run in the direction he'd felt the disturbance. This time his lightsaber was already in his hands, snapped into fighting position and ready for action when he found the fight. Any sort of violence outside the slums was well beyond the point where somebody was going to be talked down.
He heard the screams of pain, crashing bodies and the humming whir of a lightsaber and blasters at work before he turned the corner and had to duck a flying body.
Mercs. A small army of them.
In the middle of it was a sight much like he would have made in such events. A big gray shewolf in the light clothes of a smuggler and a bright green lightsaber in one hand and blaster in the other was holding her own, but it wouldn't last. She didn't have the training for it for all she was proficient with her 'saber and the bit of Force-shoving she used to an outsider.
His own blade hummed as he ignited it. He focused for a brief moment, feeling the Force flowing through the area. He took a few steps, and then leaped up into the air, flipping and twisting to land facing the back of a merc coming up behind the shewolf with a vibroaxe. He opened the Gamorrean's back with an easy stroke, its death-cry mingling with the noise of the battle.
He noted in the back of his awareness that she noticed, but didn't take her focus off the battle as she moved closer to accept his assistance and guard each other's backs for the fight. It was then it sunk in what had felt off about her movements. She couldn't have had more than a year or two of formal training. It left her dangerous to these mercs, but by far the less proficient of the two of them.
Unfortunately, it also meant he had to watch her movements as much as his own to avoid hurting either one of them.
He shifted his blade to one hand as he saw a Rodian in the back limber up a weapon that looked like a large crystalline blaster rifle. He thrust his open palm at the strange weapon and heard the satisfying crunch of its components crumbling. Another of the mercs fired a blaster into the melee, but he deflected the bolt before it could hit the shewolf behind him.
His efforts also left her open to do what she did best: close quarters slicing. She didn't move too far away from him to keep the mercs from separating them, but she make take a rather gleeful half-circle of destruction around her of anything that got close enough for her 'saber.
Doruth was just glad she was keeping them from coming in too quickly; her own obvious pleasure in the fight was feeding into the darkness inside him. He kept reminding himself that she didn't know what she was doing beyond the basics; she couldn't be a dark sider, at least not yet. He was still probably on the right side of the fight.
"A strategic retreat may be in order, Jedi." He heard her voice over the battle. There wasn't any fear in it, though he could feel her concern. "Reinforcements will come before we take these out."
"Sounds good to me," he said. He snarled as one of the mercs got through his defenses and hit his arm with a stun baton. The baton and arm that held it fell to the ground, followed shortly by the offender's head.
"Back to the docks would be best," he growled, trying to keep his control. "The internal defenses will nail anybody with an active weapon; we'll be safe once we're there."
"Gotcha," she nodded and began to move, more experienced with getting out of trouble than she was with her 'saber.
He could hear her breathing, heavier than was a good sign, but nothing in her movements indicated she was injured and she certainly wasn't letting up on the damage she was dealing as they fought their way out of the combat zone.
Still, even if she was just winded it was a damned good sign that the fight had to end soon.
"Brace yourself," he warned her. He gave her just long enough to do that before summoning the Force surrounding them into a solid wave. He released the burst of air, knocking the startled mercs back, some of them falling flat as their comrades stumbled into them. "Go for it!" He shouted, turning and starting to run back for the docks. He hoped Jay had the ship flightworthy. It didn't much matter why the mercs were after her; after this he'd have to get off the planet fast, even if she didn't.
Her ragged breathing followed him, clear after just the first few paces that she couldn't enhance her speed or endurance but had a solid reserve to draw on naturally and was pushing that to its limits keeping up with him. He slowed down, knowing that if the mercs caught up with them he'd have to be close to help her in the fight that followed.
The delay meant that he didn't notice the calm, even steps that carried a tall, thin twi'lek into the street. He barely noticed the bounty hunter raise his blaster in time to raise his 'saber and block the shot.
The Panther lunged forward, angling his bright blue blade for a lethal blow that would probably slice the green-skinned fighter in two - only to have his eyes go wide with shock as his 'saber blinked out.
"I never get sick of that expression," the twi'lek smirked, slamming the butt of his blaster into Doruth's jaw and sending the Panther staggering back a few steps even as the zrrratt of a heavy blaster knocked the twi'lek off balance long enough for a snarling mass of muscle and very sharp fangs to impact.
Doruth swallowed at the pure savagery of the Wolf's attack. If it wasn't for the way she scrabbled to her feet, lunged to grab up both blasters from the ground and took off again for the docks he probably would have been sick before he'd managed to realize that there was no emotion at all surrounding her shredding of the merc's life.
The most frightening part of it was thinking of how close he'd come to that on more than one occasion. He could only hope he was right about her not having any formal training; if he wasn't, it raised the disturbing question of who would have trained her and left her that uncontrolled.
He got to his feet quickly, taking advantage of the stunned reaction of the rest of the mercs to make it the rest of the way to the docks, holstering his lightsaber before the internal defenses decided he posed a threat.
"You have a ship?" He asked her, breathing hard, ignoring the blood dripping from her muzzle and smeared over her body as she wheezed for breath and shook her head.
"Yeah," he nodded tiredly, rubbing his jaw gingerly. He froze up suddenly, then grabbed the shewolf and pulled her tightly against him as he turned into a small side-corridor and forced himself to focus enough to create the image of a dusty, unused supply closet. He was grateful that she didn't twitch or make a sound she could avoid; she even managed to control her breathing to an extent until the mercs had passed them by. Then she glanced at him, willing to follow his lead for the moment.
He motioned for her to stay quiet, closing his eyes for a moment and thinking.
It was only then that he started to come out of his battle focus enough to start realizing what the rush of adrenaline and being so close to her well-muscled body was doing to him. He forced his body to behave while he put together a mental route that would get them to the ship without anybody being too likely to see them. Opening his eyes, he let her go and started down the corridor with a silent signal to follow that was complied with.
They both kept their senses open, but the circuitous route avoided the mercs, who thankfully hadn't recognized Doruth enough to know what ship was his. There were advantages to not being the only Panther in the docks.
"Any objections to getting off this rock?" He asked her. "If not, we're out of here as soon as my other shipmate has the Kalrass ready to fly."
"Not at all," she shook her head fervently, sending still wet blood flying in small droplets. "Anywhere but here is a good idea."
"Then let's get moving!" He said, looking both ways before bolting for the ship, praying once again that Jay would have it ready to go.
And that he wouldn't necessarily be around to see the blood-soaked shewolf.
He almost stopped when he realized the engines were powered up and the ship ready for liftoff as soon as they came on board. That kit would never stop surprising him. He was sure of it now.
"Shower in the cargo hold if you want to get the blood off," he offered the shewolf as the ship's doors closed behind her. "I'll go talk with our pilot and make sure he's got the nav computer going."
"Great," she grinned at him, as eager to get the blood and battle out of her fur and clothes as he was to have it gone and worked her way to the cargo hold, the only place on a ship like this that a shower of any kind could have been installed.
Doruth ducked into his quarters long enough to grab a rag and wipe the dark blood on his paws off. He always wondered how it was that twi'leks could be so many different colors and have the same shade blood in them. Dismissing the question, he headed back through the engine room and into the cockpit, surprised at just how much was back in one piece now.
"We've got a new passenger," he explained to Jay briefly, sliding into the pilot seat quickly. "And probably a couple dozen hutt-slugs after us once they figure out who the Panther with the lightsaber is."
"Yeah, and if this was back home, they'd already be swarming the ship." The kit shivered. "You made a major splash on local chatter. We're ready for liftoff. I got it all back together to get us to Mantessa when the fight started."
"Well it's not like I could just let 'em kill her," the Panther said defensively, taking the controls on reflex. "Let's get out of here then. You have the nav-computer set up?"
"Yap." He nodded easily. "You had good timing. I was about to take the computers and main power down just before I caught what was happening. We would have been stuck here for hours if I'd started that." He paused as they lifted off. "Is she okay?"
"Physically, I think so," Doruth nodded. "And believe me, I'm very glad you hadn't done that before you picked it up. How did you know what was happening?" He asked, piloting the ship up and away from the Nar Shaddaa docks, along with the traditional 'negotiation' with Hutt security forces; a few shots from the blaster-cannon on the tail of the ship across the bow of anything unlucky enough to try and get in their way.
"Doruth, everything was talking about it. That was a huge force to be sent after one person, and two lightsabers in one battle was almost as big a deal. The area'll be chatting about this for days."
"Didn't know you were listening to the comms, or that anybody was watching," the Panther admitted. "Almost wish I'd had the chance to figure out what that damned twi'lek was wearing," he murmured, double-checking the coordinates in the nav-computer. It wasn't that he didn't trust Jay, but he wasn't particularly crazy about the idea of coming out of hyperspace in the middle of a star either.
"Not the comms," Jay shook his head. "The machines, the city and spaceport itself. I haven't really listened for a long time," he admitted quietly. "They're so much violence and hate and pain in the slums that it hurt to pay attention any more than I had to to stay out of trouble. The spaceport is more fun to listen to. There's life and excitement and stuff going on."
"I'm sorry," Doruth said softly. He knew the feeling all too well, and that was after he'd learned enough control to block out the 'background' of the slums if he had to. The sky darkened as they left the atmosphere of Nar Shaddaa, giving way to the clear blackness of space and a pleasant sigh of coming home from Jay.
"Hope you've been through hyperspace before, Jay," he said, keying the controls to prepare for the jump as soon as they were out of the planet's gravity well. "Hold her steady, I'm going to go make sure our new shipmate's braced for the jump."
"Right," the kit nodded and easily took control of a craft he's never been trained on. The instruction was simple enough, though, even without getting the computer to help him.
Doruth breathed a sigh of relief of his own when he couldn't smell blood as he entered the small cargo hold to find the shewolf sitting on a stack of crates waiting for him, dressed in her clothes from the battle that had seen as much washing as she had.
"So, Jedi, do you have a name?" She asked rather conversationally.
"Doruth Parn," he said. "And I'm not a Jedi anymore. They tend to frown on their members being gamblers. You?"
"Tes Ramaris," she chuckled with a nod. "And I never was one. I just picked up the sword from a crash a few years back."
"Taught yourself to use it?" He asked, impressed. Even with a Jedi Master to help with the training it wasn't easy to learn. "And just who did you tick off to get that many mercs and bounty hunters sent after you?"
"Jenaba and Beshaba the Hutts." She leaned back, displaying her body a little more enticingly without being too blatant about it. "They didn't want to pay me for a job. I kind of turned Beshaba into diced Hutt."
Doruth winced; he'd heard rumors about that while he was picking up supplies.
"Yeah, they usually object when somebody does that who isn't being paid by another Hutt. You've got a bit of a temper, don't you?"
"Not that anybody's noticed," she shook her head a bit. "I lost my ship and crew on that job, so I was already pissed when he started talking about making me a slave girl to pay me for my trouble." She cocked her head at him. "Though by Jedi standards, yeah, I probably do. I am an Alpha Wolf by nature and upbringing."
Doruth growled slightly. "That he deserved to be diced for. Just was a little surprised when you went after that guy with tooth and claw, since you had a blaster on you."
"You would have had a blaster hole in your head if I'd taken the time to take that many shots," she shrugged. "The first one didn't even scorch his armor."
"I was a little distracted at the moment," Doruth admitted. "Hadn't noticed the first shot. So you've never been trained to use the Force by anybody but yourself?"
"I've snagged a few vid-lessons over the years, but it's pretty much just been me." She nodded. "Something that whatever training you got makes it very obvious I barely know what I'm doing with it."
That was about what he'd thought, and it was almost a relief. Of course, it meant that she knew just enough to be a threat to herself at the same time. Too many sensitives had taken self-training and turned it into a short, violent career as a warlord. On the plus side, if she hadn't already, it wasn't likely high on her list of inclinations either.
"I might be able to help you with some of that, if you don't mind cramped quarters for a while." Why was he leaving himself open for this? Of course, it wasn't like he was offering to make a Jedi out of her; it was just too risky to leave her with as little control as she had. A small warning light went off, and he looked up at it. They were out of the planet's gravity well. "For now, I need to go get us into hyperspace. As much of a miracle worker as my co-pilot is, I don't want him doing that without knowing how," he chuckled, standing up.
"Ummm, yes, that would not be good," she chuckled and shook her head as she got down. "And I'd love to have a better grip on what I can do. Where's a spot for a third party to strap down?"
"At this point, it's about on the level of finding somewhere nothing's going to fall on you and being glad I had the cargo bay converted for livable space," he admitted. "Though for the jump you could borrow one of the bunks in the quarters. Unfortunately, there's only enough space for two; I hadn't exactly been planning on picking up passengers until this week."
"I'll take a bunk, if you don't mind," her body language making it clear she didn't mind sharing it for sleeping either.
"Go ahead," he nodded, showing her the crew quarters as they walked by. He also decided this was probably a good time to let her know that his 'crewmate' was a kit. "I use the one behind the curtain, so you probably want to grab that. And as tempting as the offer is," he chuckled slightly, "I'm afraid the guy who uses the other bunk is about ten."
That raised an eyebrow right into her hairline. "You have found an interesting crew in a week, Doruth Parn." Tes chuckled and shook her head. "So where are we headed, anyway?" She asked as she brushed the curtain back.
"You don't know the half of it," he chuckled. "Just wait until you meet him; I'm still trying to figure out how he does half the things he can. And we're heading to Mantessa."
"Do I even want to know why we're headed to a world infested by panthacs?" She raised her eyebrow even higher.
"For one thing, the entire world isn't infested," Doruth chuckled. "Unless something went screwy, I know a few islands that don't have any on them. They're not actually that bad if you're careful; I spent about a week in the middle of panthac country while I was training. Besides," he shrugged, "it's safer than hitting Maridun, and don't get me started on Kashykk."
"Okay, okay," she lifted her hands in surrender and chuckled. "Let's just get out of this Hutt hell."
"Right," he nodded, heading back out towards the cockpit. "We'll be hitting hyperspace in just a couple minutes." With that, he went up to start the Kalrass' shift.
Tes stepped softly into the crew quarters behind Doruth and spread her fingers up his back. "The kit is occupied, the door locks, care to claim your reward now?" She rumbled seductively in his ear.
"Mmm ... only if that's not the only reason," he chuckled, turning to wrap an arm around her waist, rumbling and running his fingers up her own well-muscled back. "I'd like to think I don't have to save somebody's life first," he winked.
"No, but it does make things a little sweeter," she grinned before kissing him hungrily and rubbed against the solid block of muscle of his chest. "And you know it's not the only reason to bed you."
"I know it, but no way of telling if you do yet," he grinned, kissing her again and drawing her back towards the bunk only to be stopped when she pushed him against the bulkhead and worked his shirt off.
"A big, strong, powerful, skilled, handsome male like you?" Tes breathed against his bare chest as she nuzzled and licked her way down to his pants. "If you were a Wolf, I'd fight to have you."
"High compliment," he rumbled deeply. And it was, especially from her; alphas were notoriously picky about bed partners, especially ones they'd fight for. He groaned as her attentions made his shaft harden in anticipation. His hands working her back and shoulders skillfully through her own jacket and shirt.
He shivered as his belt was undone and pants slid down. She nuzzled his crotch, her long soft tongue working his velvety balls as she breathed in the musk of his arousal that heightened her own.
"Oh fuck," he groaned, leaning his head back and closing his deep blue eyes in pleasure. "Been way too long...."
"You and me both." Tes murmured and took his rough shaft all the way down to the sheath in a single motion.
The Panther groaned deeply, his grip on her shoulders tightening as pleasure coursed through him. He tried to remember how long it had been for a moment, but decided to forget about it and just go with the flow for now.
Which, all things considered, was much more pleasant.
He felt his claws come out, stopped by her vest, as she worked him to so close to climax he could taste it. It may have been a while since she'd had a partner, but she remembered how to take him down her throat and vibrate around it while she worked her own clothing off between fondling his heavy balls and feeling the rest of his body.
It didn't take long for the unfamiliar but more than welcome pleasure to push him over the edge. He locked his jaw, groaning through clenched teeth as thick Panther-seed shot into her hungry, sucking muzzle to be swallowed easily. He shuddered with a deep moan and squeezed his eyes shut as she continued to work him past his orgasm, keeping him hard until he'd stay that way.
"Take me," Tes rumbled into a demanding kiss as she put her own back to the wall and lifted one leg to wrap around him, rubbing her slick sex against his shaft. "Make me feel your power."
"Dangerous request, Tes," he said, serious despite the grin that spread along his muzzle as he rubbed against her. "Sure you want to make it without giving me a ground rule for what's too far?"
"No broken bones or serious bleeding," she replied seriously and pulled his head forward for a hard kiss.
"That I can manage," he rumbled as their lips parted, claiming another kiss as he ran his hands down along her sides possessively. His claws left deep furrows in her double coat of fur as he started to let go of his self-conditioning, getting ready to really let loose for the first time in years. He felt her intoxicating arousal and hunger for the promised roughness and pleasure against his mind as much as in his nose and on his tongue. It silenced even the last bit of concern that he might go too far.
She was as eager for the unbridled passion as he was, and had no illusions about what that meant. The only obstacles left between them and it were inside him.
He let out a feral growl as most of those fell away and he sank his claws into her flanks. He shifted, driving his barbed length into her hot, wet sex with a single thrust, starting to fuck her mercilessly without any hesitation. Her unabashed growls and moans of pleasure and cries for more spurred him on. Her slick sex tightened around his shaft with every powerful thrust as she gripped him across his broad shoulders and willingly surrendered to the first male she'd met who was worthy of dominating her, even if it was just to be in bed.
Doruth bit down on her shoulder lightly, forcing himself not to break the skin as his balls pulled up close to his body, spilling their contents into her wombs as he hilted inside of her, his thick shaft stretching her around its barbed length.
"Oh Yes!" Tes howled and pulled him even tighter against her body as she milked his cock for everything he was worth. He pressed close to her until both their sexes were done, then kissed her neck, grazing her throat with his teeth and relished the way she shivered at the dominating behavior.
"Want me to move you, or willing to move yourself?" He asked her with a deep rumble.
"I can move," she moaned and squeezed his cock, still deep inside her body. "Wherever you want me."
"On your knees," he rumbled, pulling out of her with a groan. "Bed or floor."
Tes nodded with a moaning gasp at being empty and quickly got on the bunk with her ass in the air and tail over her back. She looked at him hungrily. "Fuck me, Panther."
"With pleasure," he rumbled. He practically pounced on her, sinking his shaft into her dripping sex again. He nosed her hair out of the way, his jaws closing tightly on the scruff of her neck. The metallic taste of her blood filled his mouth as he started fucking her for all he was worth and found his efforts returned in her tightening sex and growled for more.
His breath came hot and metallic as he groaned into her thick fur and she thrust back into his pounding hips with abandon and desire that pushed him even higher than the physical pleasures her body offered him so wantonly.
It wasn't much longer before he groaned into her scruff, spilling another load of semen into her pussy. Before he'd even finished, he pulled out of her body and started pressing his sex-slicked shaft into her tight ass. He felt her surprise across her body and against her mind, and the pain of being spread open for the first time in a very long time.
Despite that, she moaned deeply, her desire and arousal flagging only briefly as she accepted the pain and relished the pleasure that came with it.
He hilted inside her, his barbs raking the tender flesh as he started to pull out. He couldn't take her as roughly as he had before, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Soon, he was speeding up, pounding his shaft into her impossibly tight ass with gusto until his balls tightened against him again to pour their last offering for a while into her body while she shuddered at the sensation of the thick, hot liquid deep in her stretched ass.
"Ohhh, yeah." Tes moaned as he began to relax along her back and she settled on the bunk, both their juices oozing from her body. "Oh, yeah." She murmured in real contentment at his hard-muscled body a warm blanket over her.
"You can say that again," he panted, licking at her bloodied scruff and snuggled close to her as he started to calm down and gradually slid from her body as he softened.
Jay relaxed at the controls of the Kalrass, watching and listening to the ship's systems while the adults got some rest, and fun if the shewolf has any say about it, when the comm system beeped for his attention to an incoming message in reply to one he'd sent several days before.
Attention: Jay Clawson
Message from: Jedi Temple, Coruscant
Re: Status of Doruth Parn
Records state Doruth Parn is no longer a Padawan. Recognized as a Knight since shortly before disappearance appr. 5 years ago.
Requesting information regarding his whereabouts and condition, with possible meeting to be arranged.
Knight Jolani Panthera
He considered the language for a while, and then typed up the first of two replies he expected to write on the subject.
Attention: Knight Jolani Panthera
Message from: Jay Clawson
Re: Status of Doruth Parn
Doruth is physically in good shape, mentally fairly good, still holding off the Dark Side and is currently between the middle of nowhere and another middle of nowhere.
A meeting will be arranged if he agrees.
He reread the message and sent it off before getting up to go look for the adults.
The ship was actually pretty quiet as he walked back to the crew quarters. Not too unusual, given the thickness of the bulkheads. He knew the door was locked even before he tried it and heard as much as felt the familiar sounds of adults playing. He snickered as he relaxed against the bulkhead while they finished.
"Hey, Doruth!" He called out even as he asked the door to open and it complied. "Got a message you need to see."
"The hell - Jay?!? Close the door!" He could hear the surprise in Doruth's voice from behind the curtain. His nose told him clearly enough that he'd been right about what they were up to.
"You were finished," the kit wined, but he backed out and let the door shut, muttering about what the Panther thought he was hiding and what the big deal was.
"He has a point, we were." Tes chuckled from behind the curtain.
"He could've at least given us a little warning though," Doruth muttered. "Either I'm going to need to start looking for a bigger ship or start welding doors shut...." A few moments passed before the door opened again, the Panther just inside it and wearing a hastily-donned pair of pants.
"I didn't mean to yell, Jay," he apologized. "Just... knock or something next time, okay?"
"Okay," the kit shrugged. He didn't get what the big deal was, his family sure as hell didn't care, but then maybe it was a Jedi thing. "A message came in from the Jedi Temple you should see."
"The Jedi... now how the hell did they find me?" Doruth asked, cocking his head curiously. After five years, he couldn't come up with any way they would have found him... now.... "You figured out how the hyperspace transceiver worked," he guessed.
"They haven't found you," the kit said simply. "I just asked what your status among the Jedi is."
"I meant to send a message here," Doruth explained, leaning back against the dresser protruding from the wall. He couldn't really blame Jay too much; at least this way he'd know if it was safe to take him to the Temple. "So, have they decided I'm a renegade, or just fallen?"
"She replied to it," the kit shrugged. "And neither. You're a Knight."
"They still have me listed as being a Knight?" The Panther's expression was one of disbelief. "Five years after I disappeared on them?"
"Yap," Jay nodded. "Knight Jolani Panthera wants to meet with you."
"She made Knight, huh?" He said, leaning back thoughtfully. "Well, at least I know there's no chance somebody's pulling a fast one if she's the one we're supposed to meet. She leave a place or time?"
"No," he shook his head. "I don't think they expected to get that much cooperation. She asked where and how you were, though."
"Sounds like her, though I imagine they were a lot more precise with the language," he chuckled slightly, looking back towards the curtain Tes was lounging behind. "Any objections to meeting an old friend on Mantessa while we're there?"
"Not as long as she doesn't try to arrest me," the shewolf laughed. "Go make arrangements."
"Trust me, she's not about to try and arrest anybody," Doruth laughed, shifting to stand up straight and look down at Jay. "So, you want to finish up arranging this yourself, or should I?" He asked with a chuckle.
"I just wanted to know if they were trying to kill you." The kit pointed out. "This part is your business."
"All right," he nodded. "Though just something to keep in mind; the Jedi don't do death warrants. If they do, they certainly don't take 5 years to find the person it's out on, and they almost certainly deserve it. I'll go send the message; we might be staying a little longer than expected depending on how fast the ship she uses is."
"Right," Jay nodded, clearly not all that convinced of the first two facts as he watched Doruth head up to the bridge and the messages.
"Dor!" Jay's excited voice, and the new variant on his name, exploded onto the bridge just before the kit did as they were making a final approach to Mantessa. "Set down at 00 north, 66 east!"
"Huh?" The Panther looked over at Jay, then down at the map. He shrugged a little thinking about it. "Sure, not that far from where I was planning on setting down anyways." He punched in the changes, just a mile or two from where they'd been planning on landing as it was. "What's the buzz?"
"There's a ship down there that wants to be ours." He grinned, almost dancing in his excitement. "A seriously cool one."
"Okay," Doruth chuckled, moving in for the approach. He frowned slightly as they saw the area they were supposed to land in; a ragged hole seemingly torn in the dense forest on the island. "Jay, are you sure this is where we should be landing?"
He paused a moment, then nodded. "Yap, that's the spot."
"Okay," Doruth nodded. He could feel something there too; something different than the last time he'd been here. The last time it had been calm and tranquil. Now... the tranquility had been disturbed.
"Jay, I'm going to have to set us down a little distant from it, but not far. Just a matter of finding a decent landing spot for the Kalrass... the ship you're feeling probably didn't land under its own power by my guess."
"No, he didn't," the kit agreed and took over the co-pilot's seat. "I don't mind walking."
He slowed their descent, taking the small ship in though what he was pretty sure was the crash zone. Fortunately the small ship was built for dodging through asteroid fields more densely packed than this particular chunk of the forest; he was able to weave between the trees until they found a small clearing not a mile away.
"Before we go, Tes and I are going to have to make sure we're ready," the Panther said seriously, standing up out of his seat. "I'll need a blaster, at least."
"And she needs to get dressed." Jay added with a snicker and innocent look that he knew Doruth wasn't buying. Still, he knew enough to tell when the Panther was blushing, even if his thick black fur covered it up.
"If that's the case, you and I've both been out here since we dropped out of hyperspace, so it hardly means anything," he pointed out calmly and only got another snicker for the effort. "I don't suppose that anyone taught you how to shoot on that cruiser you were on before you zapped yourself out here?" He asked, surprisingly serious for talking to a kit a third his age.
"Of course," Jay grinned. "I'm a Clawson. We're all sharpshooters. Great-Grandpa redefined the term."
"Blasters, or some other type of weapon?" Doruth asked, thinking as he headed back into the cargo hold with Jay on his heals. He'd thought this island was safe before, but that had been a long, long time ago... he hadn't been that much older than Jay then. A lot of things could happen in that much time.
"Light blaster, laser riffle, air riffle, bow, spear, Glovatrix, fighter," he started to count it off from memory. "I didn't get to learn the bigger personal weapons 'cause I'm not big enough to really handle them yet, but I know how to do maintenance on the entire line. Ranged weapons come easy to us."
"Definitely a military family," the Panther mused, opening up the concealed panel that hid the admittedly small arsenal he'd loaded up. He pulled down a sport-grade blaster rifle, and handed it to the kit. "That should be light enough for you. Just keep it set to stun for now; I don't think we're going to run into anything that'd need more."
"Right," Jay nodded and made a quick, efficient examination of the variant on a familiar theme. "I should be able to hit just about anything close enough to be dangerous. And of course we're a military family. We're SWAT Kats."
"One of these days you're going to have to tell me just who the SWAT Kats are," Doruth smiled, selecting a heavier carbine for himself. "Jay? If we do run into any trouble out there, get back to the ship and close the door if you can. I'll go get Tes."
"Special Weapons Assault Teams," the kit grinned at him, covering the fact that he had little intention of leaving them to anything that dangerous.
"That sounds military all right," Doruth nodded, keying the intercom for the quarters. "Tes, we're landed. Jay thinks he spotted a ship near here. Something doesn't feel quite right, so make sure you stop back here to grab something that'll fire full-auto. Some moron might've brought something off another planet."
"Right," she replied with the sound of rustling clothes before the comm clicked off.
"Black ops, technically," he added thoughtfully as he went over his family history. "Well, it started as an unofficial almost vigilante unit, then got adopted into official Ops status when politics changed a bit."
"Black ops?" Doruth looked back at Jay, raising an eyebrow as he was reminded of just how odd the kit's family was. "Y'know, I think I'd like to meet that family one of these days," he chuckled slightly. "If it wasn't for the galaxy in there somewhere."
"Stick around me, you will." He grinned up as Tes strode into the room with a nod to both of them and went to the stash of weapons to select a heavy-duty plasma riffle. "We always find the lost members eventually."
"Ready to go?" She asked the pair.
"Ready," Doruth nodded. "Let's hope I'm just nervous about there being a crashed ship so close to Ryth's Rest."
"Which is?" Jay asked before Tes could.
"Reason this place should be safe," Doruth explained. "Ryth was one of the early Masters when the Jedi were first formalizing themselves. Hell of a guy by everybody's accounts. He was buried on this island by his fourth Padawan after age finally caught up with him, but legend says his presence has kept the place relatively peaceful since then."
"Well, let's hope it's true." Tes nodded curtly. "What are we looking for, anyway?"
"The crashed ship." Jay chuckled.
"To fix? To scavenge? To bury the dead?" She looked between them.
"Fix." Jay supplied.
"And bury, if there's a need for it," Doruth added. "We'll have to see." He moved to the hatch, opened it and looked around outside. "Looks quiet enough; let's go."
The trio started making their way towards the coordinates Jay had given them. The kit was as eager as he'd ever been, though Tes couldn't shake the feeling that something was watching them. Mostly because she knew something was; she'd caught the glimpse of tawny fur moving between green leaves and bushes that usually came just before a panthac attack probably a dozen times now. The weird part was that they weren't attacking. Three people, no matter how well armed, were usually a tempting dinner for a pack of the tiny predators.
"You see that?" She asked Doruth under her breath while she covered the much less careful kit that was pushing them to move faster.
"Yeah," he nodded slightly. His thumb moved slightly to flip the carbine's safety off, just in case. "If they haven't attacked yet, I don't think they're going to. Just try and stay calm; we don't want to do anything that might set them off."
"Calm I can do," she nodded slightly. "He'd be a lot safer if I just carried him by the scruff."
"You know he wouldn't let you do that. Besides, we're not much farther. Once we're on the ship, he probably wouldn't notice if we welded the door shut unless it told him."
"True," she chuckled, remembering the way the kit focused on his projects. "Hopefully the ship's intact enough that we can secure it."
"He is." Jay called back, his scruffy tail waving sharply. "Come on already. He's just up ahead."
"We're coming," Doruth nodded, stepping ahead to push some hanging vines aside. His breath caught in his throat as he saw the ship waiting for them.
It wasn't a thing of beauty by most people's standards; a drab olive green and broad, blocky panels defined its long profile, over twice the size of the Kalrass. The rounded corners and broad design didn't look particularly special, though the turret protruding from the top and its twin cannons marked it as a ship that had seen battle before, as did the deep scorch marks in the armor plate.
As unremarkable as the ship looked, Doruth recognized it.
"It's a Vanya," he rumbled deeply, stepping towards the ship.
"A Jedi ship?" Tes frowned, seeing one for the first time.
"The Gurath," Jay informed them. "He's very happy to see us."
"The Jedi ship for centuries," Doruth grinned even as Jay started his hands-on inspection of the hull. "Didn't think there were any more out there."
"Let's get inside," Tes suggested, catching more motion than she liked. "Before we see some action."
"Right," Doruth nodded. "Jay, is there power enough to open the hatch, or are we going to have to improvise something?"
"Got it," the kit made his way to the main hatch and focused for a moment before it opened with significant complaints from the metal.
The air inside was stale as the three of them hurried onto the ship, the signs of violence obvious.
"Whoever had this ship before had a rough time of it," Doruth murmured, looking at the shattered bones that were left.
"Probably those panthacs that are loose." Tes commented. "It would explain their presence on the island."
"It wasn't Jedi who had her last." Jay commented absently as they worked their way around the ship, the adults looking while he touched.
"Smugglers maybe," Doruth mused as he moved back into one of the cargo areas. Several durasteel cages, ripped open, were as good as a holovid to explain what had happened. "Didn't know panthacs could punch through this stuff given the time. Just glad they got 'em off the ship. Most of 'em," he amended, glancing down at a skull, too large for most creatures the panthac's size but with the telltale jaws of the tiny creatures.
This one had a blaster mark on it, but he had a feeling there were others still on the ship that had given in to starvation long before.
"Gonna be a long time cleaning this place up," he observed.
"That'll give you something to do besides play while I repair him." Jay commented absently as he worked on his exploration. "Any priorities on what to fix first?" He offered.
"Power, life support, and defenses, if necessary," Doruth said, blushing slightly at Jay's admittedly accurate guess at what the adults would probably be up to a fair amount of the time.
He was definitely going to have to work on not blushing as easily.
"But you look very cute when you do." Tes grinned at him unrepentantly. "Start with the remains, or sweep the ship from front to back?" She offered the order of the unpleasant choice of how they would work to him.
"I'll take the remains," he offered. Her abilities weren't likely to cause her any grief if she took them, but he knew his wouldn't. "At least after this long they're not as bad as fresher corpses," he chuckled slightly.
"Very true," she nodded and looked around. "Are there cleaning supplies here, Jay?"
"Brooms and such," he nodded and broke his inspection to lead her there. "Not much by way of cleaners."
"Anything will help," she nodded. "This one has years of grime to deal with."
"We can bring more off the Kalrass once we've done what we can with the supplies here," Doruth called, kneeling and began the slow process of collecting bones of both the crew, and the panthacs that had killed them. "We'll need to move everything over anyways eventually."
"Hey, Tes," Doruth groaned, stretching out as he tossed the now-filthy cloth he'd been cleaning one of the crew rooms with into a bucket. "Why don't we grab a break?"
"Whatcha got in mind?" She grinned with no attempt to hide what was on her mind.
"Not that," he chuckled, shaking his head. "At least not right away. I was thinking of heading out and getting something for dinner. If you're interested, might be able to bring back something large with some help carrying it."
"Hunting?" She cocked her head. "Sure. The kit's safe enough in here and there is no way in hell anyone should be out there alone."
"I think we'll be safe for now," he chuckled slightly. "They're usually pretty quiet around noon. If we head up into the trees a bit, we'll shake 'em. They can climb, but they're not likely to chase something like that unless they're starving."
"And if they were, they'd have attacked us long ago." She nodded, not thrilled with the idea of climbing herself. "It's still safer with two."
"That I'm not going to argue with," he nodded, standing up and stretching out more. "You going to take a blaster along?"
"At least," she nodded. "A riffle would need a strap so I can climb. Unlike your kind, we don't come by it that naturally."
"True," he admitted. "Should have something with a shoulder strap though. I'll be going a little more lightly armed," he explained, heading back out to the supplies they'd moved after cleaning the cargo bay and grabbing a blaster rifle for her, strap included. "We can also try staying closer to the ground if you want. It shouldn't be too bad; panthacs are nocturnal mostly, and I think they're getting used to us."
"Which could be a good or bad thing," she grinned at him and shouldered the weapon. "I don't mind trees, I'm just no cat."
"We'll sort it out once we see how the hunting's doing," he chuckled, ducking into his quarters and closed the door behind him. A few moments later he came back out, wearing nothing but a black loincloth with his lightsaber strapped to the waist.
"Fair warning; don't get between me and prey," he said seriously and tried to ignore the spike of raw lust that hit him from Tes. "Not if I'm focused on it."
"I understand," she licked her muzzle and didn't even try to conceal the way her eyes ran over his exposed fur and how the silky black pelt rippled over powerful muscles as he moved.
"Let's get going before we end up forgetting why I'm dressed like this," he chuckled, moving to the hatch and opening it up, starting out. He was remarkably at-ease, given what he knew about the critters in the area.
"That's fine," Tes grinned. "The view is just as good from here too." She added with an approving rumble for his tight ass but kept a respectful distance from the hunter.
"You're incorrigible," the Panther chuckled, moving to one of the trees and sinking his claws into the thick bark. He started climbing easily, making his way up to the massive branches above.
"It's part of the package," she grinned at him and studied the tree before making a leap into the lower branches to make her way after him by more conventional means.
Once she'd caught up with him, he almost seemed to be a different person entirely. Moving carefully, deliberately, he stalked through the forest, occasionally pausing to sniff the air. He was acting almost like he'd slipped back into instinct.
And Tes had to admit; he managed to make that look remarkably good.
It seemed he'd been right about the panthacs too; while she knew they were around, they weren't anywhere near the two of them. Whether it was because of the height or because of the time she didn't know, but she wasn't about to complain either.
It felt like she was following him forever; minutes of waiting in near-silence followed by bursts of motion as he caught a scent or a sound and followed it. Finally, they neared a large clearing by a small pond. Doruth crept towards the edge of the large branch they were on, looking down towards the water. Near the edge, a small herd of hoofed quadrupeds were drinking, their dark pelts helping them blend in with the shadows of the forest floor. Just as Tes was recognizing them as a local breed of zarymok, she realized that Doruth had disappeared.
Moments later, a pitch-black blur dropped out of the branches further downwind, landing directly on top of one of the smaller beasts. It fell to the ground, struggling with the dark shape on its back as the rest of the herd let out a series of piercing bellows, charging back into the safety of the forest.
Doruth, or at least she assumed it was Doruth, grappled with the beast near the water's edge. Animalistic shrieks of pain and fright echoed off the trees for a few moments, then all was still, the Panther's jaws locked around the zarymok's spine. The gesture was so similar to a more familiar, intimate bite she'd become accustomed to that it almost sent shivers up her spine as the hunter started to haul his kill up the tree slowly, his dark fur glistening with blood.
"If only you were a Wolf," she whispered under her breath, entranced by the savage power and embodiment of everything her kind valued in a mate and Alpha. "You are incredible, Doruth. Utterly incredible."
She took a deep breath, doubting he'd be in a mood to play until his belly was full and moved to meet him, and made a point of making her presence obvious to him while she was at it.
He made quick work of gutting the creature, the motions practiced as much as instinctive before he speared it on a nearby branch to drain to the ground beneath them along with the rest of the offal. She was actually surprised to see the expression in his blue eyes when he turned towards her.
Apparently, he wasn't planning on sating the hunger as she'd thought quite yet.
She rumbled appreciatively and moved foreword along the branch, her head tilted to expose her throat and her tail tucked between her legs out of respect for her superior in the pack and the near-animal nature she could read in his body language. She wanted close, wanted his body, but not to face his wrath protecting his kill from an outsider.
The blood-soaked Panther leaped at her, practically knocking her flat on her back on the large branch. For a moment she was afraid she'd managed to set him off somehow. His claws slid out and shred her pants before he took the brief moment to rip his loincloth off and set it aside, his 'saber making a distinctly civilized clatter as it thumped against the tree that was completely out of place in the decidedly uncivilized events unfolding.
Neither of them noticed it though; Doruth was too busy sinking his shaft, thick with the blood-rush and adrenaline coursing through his veins, into her hot, willingly submissive body. Tes moaned as he fucked her even rougher than their first time, though more attention than she really cared for had to be diverted from the pleasure to get her riffle and shirt off before he got his teeth involved.
If it wasn't for the fall involved, she was seriously considering knocking them off the branch so she'd have a more comfortable place to be fucked completely raw. It may be a big branch, but she wasn't a natural climber and not nearly as comfortable up here as he was.
On the other hand, when she briefly considered what the smell of blood and entrails on the ground was probably going to attract, the tree probably was a little safer. At least for now.
Before long, he roared his completion, filling her body up far too fast for her liking. He pressed against her body, panting heavily.
"Ground?" He asked her as he caught his breath.
"If it'll be safe," she shuddered and squeezed down around him with a deep moan. "You are incredible, Doruth." She claimed a deep kiss from him now that he was with it enough to talk.
"Should be safe enough," he panted, pulling out of her reluctantly. "Gonna have to move fast though, still have a lot to burn off."
"Good," she rumbled and made the distance in a single leap-and-roll maneuver that put her on her feet clear of the mess and water so that the ground would be solid and went to work getting the remains of her clothes off.
No sooner was she naked than he was on the ground in front of her. He grabbed her and twisted both of them to the ground easily, growling as he kissed her possessively. She didn't even think, she just rubbed up against his chest as much as she could, her nipples hard and sensitive and spread her legs to thrust her crotch against full hard shaft, begging him to fill her again.
"Simply incredible," Tes moaned into his mouth as he shifted his hips and drove into her right to his balls, his sheath partially buried inside her, adding a thick silkiness right at her opening that made her shudder and howl her pleasure as she clamped down around him, her body fluttering around his, milking him for his seed.
He gave it to her, roaring again before he bit down on her shoulder, this time sinking his teeth into her flesh, what little control he'd had the first time completely absent as he kept fucking her through their orgasms and she did nothing but encourage him with her body and voice. Even through the claw and bite marks, their pain and the blood of his pray mixing with her own Tes wanted more of him, even past the point it was a good idea.
She was absently grateful he probably wasn't paying attention when her thoughts leaked out in her voice and she moaned her wish he was a Wolf in her pleasure. She was beginning to feel a bit loopy, her body spent completely while he was still very wound up.
Finally, he poured another load of semen into her full, spent pussy, panting as he rested against her. He was still incredibly wound up, but his deep blue eyes were more clearly his own as he released her shoulder, looking up into her rather glazed over brown ones. He licked the blood from her shoulder, pressing close as he put a hand on the wounds. She could feel the Force seem to close in around them, the pain from his bite fading.
"Sorry," he murmured softly, kissing her as he started to wind down and she did her best to look at the shoulder he'd healed.
"Wow," she murmured and kissed him back as she rubbed his back with arms that still felt rather like wet noodles. "I didn't know you could heal too."
"Not well," he admitted, nuzzling her gently. "But well enough when I have to. Didn't mean to hurt you like that, but I get a little wound up when I hunt like that."
"I noticed," she grinned up at him and kissed him again. "You are incredible."
"Thanks," he chuckled, grinning a little loopily. He tried to shift, and winced a little bit as the blood mixed in their fur started to matt it together. "Think we might want to wash up some time soon...."
"Yeah," she grinned up at him. "Maybe actually wear you out."
"Or at least try," he smirked, kissing her quickly. "Though once we're back on the Gurath, I think I'll be in the mood to just curl up in one of the quarters and snuggle." He slowly pulled out of her with a groan, their fur pulling apart gradually.
"You're not going to get any complaints from me," she moaned as they separated. She rolled to her feet weakly and staggered for the pond. "You are seriously wild." She rumbled appreciatively.
"Just pray you never get to see me at my wildest," he said seriously, standing and stretching, groaning as some of the hits he'd taken fighting the zarymok finally started to ache. "Though the type of wild you usually bring out in me, I think I can live with."
"Good," she turned to run her hands gently down his chest. "I don't think I want to see you at your wildest either." She kissed him before stepping into the cool pond to let it pull the first layer of blood and cum from her fur and body.
He followed her into the pond, wading in until the water was up to his waist. He started washing off, looking over at her with a curious expression as she did the same. "So, you meant that bit about wishing I was a Wolf?"
Despite the abuse of her body, Tes visibly startled at his low tone and turned to look at him with rather wide eyes. She dropped her gaze apologetically after a moment and nodded. "Yeah, I do."
"Don't worry," he smiled. "I'm taking it as a hell of a compliment. Though if I were, it'd leave us having to be a hell of a lot more careful," he chuckled, moving a bit closer to rub her back gently.
"Thank you," she smiled at him and leaned into the touch lightly, careful of the gashes his claws had left in her flesh. "I meant it that way. And it is nice to not have to be careful of anything but our lives when we play."
"Do you usually like it that rough?" He asked her curiously, nuzzling her neck lightly and making sure the wounds he'd left were well cleaned.
"I like it intense," she murmured and turned her head to nuzzle him in return. "Passionate, all-consuming. Rough is the most common, but not the only think I like. Sometimes slow and gentle can be just as intense." She paused to turn inside his loose embrace and kissed him. "It's as much about the who as the what when it's really good."
"Have to try that some time," he rumbled deeply, kissing her back. "Y'know, you're pretty incredible too. In a lot of ways."
"I'm usually the one in charge too," she chuckled and licked his muzzle as she began to work her fingers through his fur to clean it out as well as enjoy the potency of his presence and the intoxicating effects it had. "You're the first male I've ever allowed to dominate me like this."
"I'm honored," he rumbled softly, running his hands along her body both for the feel of her, and to work some of the mess out of her fur. Hers wasn't nearly as bad as his, but it still needed more than the pond's lightly swirling waters provided.
"You do owe me a pair of pants, though." Tes cracked a grin at him and nuzzled his neck. "You shredded what I was wearing."
"Funny," he smirked, "I don't seem to remember you complaining at the time."
"I'm still not," she grinned and slid her hands under the water to stroke his full cock. "But if you'd warned me we'd play this hard, I wouldn't have bothered wearing them."
"And we wouldn't have made it as far as we did," he pointed out with a deep, appreciative rumble for the attention, "or get dinner. Though I'm pretty sure we'll have something you can wear until we get back to civilization. Unless, of course, you don't mind not wearing anything down there," he shrugged with a wise-ass smirk. "Might save time."
"Well, I don't mind, but we do have a ten year old kit to keep in mind," Tes reminded him teasingly even as she urged him to shallower water before she knelt to take him into her mouth, playing her soft, wet tongue around the rough shaft.
"Mmm ... I know that," Doruth groaned, reaching down to rub her shoulders and neck. "I'm just not entirely sure he does yet."
"At least he's probably oblivious to the world right now." Tes commented as the pair entered the Gurath with Doruth's kill.
"Let's hope so," the Panther chuckled slightly. "C'mon, let's get you something new to wear so we don't have to worry about when he'll snap out of it."
"And you looking like you're actually dressed," she added with a smirk. "And dry."
"What happened to your pants?" Jay's bewildered voice from behind them stopped them short of their goal. "And you're naked! What happened?" He asked with real concern.
"So much for that idea." Tes winced.
"We went hunting," Doruth explained quickly, his cheeks quickly turning a shade of red much deeper than usual as he strategically shifted the zarymok's body to cover up both their nether-regions as well as he could. "It put up a heck of a fight, and I usually go out mostly naked when I'm hunting anyways."
Jay looked at him critically, clearly not buying the explanation fully. "So we have roasted fresh meat for dinner?" He asked instead, clearly just as eager for that idea as teasing the adults.
"Yep," the Panther nodded, grateful for the chance to change the subject at least briefly. "Just going to have to finish butchering it later. You do have the power back on in the galley area, right?"
"Yap," he nodded with a grin. "I was headed there for munchies. You guys were gone a while."
"Well, hunting takes time Jay," Doruth chuckled. "We'll go drop this off to chill for a while, finish it up later."
"Right," he nodded and passed the pair in the hall. "And get her a new pair of pants," he winked at them before heading for the galley for the meal he wanted right then.
"That kit is entirely too grown up for ten years." Tes observed with a shake of her head as Jay disappeared around a corner and she slowly let her tail relax from covering herself.
"Oh yeah," Doruth nodded. "And the scary part? I think it happened before his time on Nar Shaddaa. So, you want to find some pants while I put this guy away, meet you in one of the clean rooms for some quiet time?"
"Before Nar Shaddaa?" She looked at him oddly. "Just where'd that kit come from?"
"Colony ship," Doruth explained, leaving out the 'from another galaxy' part. "Apparently he managed to blind-jump himself when he was working on some sort of hyperdrive mod. We'll be safe as long as he just sticks to repairs though."
"I hope so," she shook her head and turned towards the cargo bay to hunt up something to wear, then paused and looked over her shoulder at him. "He is sticking to repairs, right?"
"If he wasn't, don't you think he'd have said something about whatever he'd tricked out?" Doruth pointed out with a chuckle. "I'll be back in a couple minutes," he smiled, starting towards the galley to pack up the meat.
And double-check with Jay that he really was just fixing things....
Jolani Panthera sat in the back of a small fighter, meditating while the droid pilot carried her to Mantessa. No other ships had been going there, and given her singular lack of skill flying ships, she had no choice but to trust the automated ship. All in all, however, it had been a good flight. No troubles with hyperspace parasites or bad piloting. Just a calm, peaceful two-week journey.
It gave her time to think about why she was going there. Doruth had left the Order five years ago, at least according to most. The darkness in him after the battle above Dantooine was almost palpable... but, according to his friend, he was fighting off the Dark as well as anybody could. Either he was faking it, or the anger and guilt he had felt were being resolved.
Either way, his friends back at the Order, herself included, wanted to know.
"Approaching Mantessa," the synthesized voice said crisply over the intercom. Jolani stretched where she was sitting, bringing herself back into the waking world. Her black stripes rippled as lean muscle shifted beneath them; the Tigress prepared herself silently for the meeting to come.
One way or another, it was likely to be interesting.
"No ships detected within two miles of landing coordinates," the droid informed her.
"Send a message to the Kalrass letting them know we're landing," she instructed it. "Then set us down."
"No reply. Setting down."
Jolani frowned slightly. Why wouldn't there be a reply? Unless they were waiting for her arrival of course. If they'd detected the fighter dropping out of hyperspace, it was quite possible. She just hoped that was it.
The starfighter touched down gently, the cockpit opening. Jolani climbed out of her cramped space, then up and out of the cockpit, savoring the fresh air and chance to really stretch out for once. She checked her lightsaber and belt pouches to make sure she had everything, and turned to start towards Master Ryth's tomb.
"Hello Jolani." The Tigress drew up short, blinking as she looked into Doruth's deep blue eyes only a few feet away.
"Doruth! Where did you come from?"
"Over there," he shrugged, stepping back and nodding into the forest. She didn't know quite what to make of him at this point; his mind was a jumble of different emotions, not one of which she could read clearly, and his body language wasn't helping. "I came out to meet you when we found out you'd reached the planet."
"Is the rest of your crew fine?" She asked. "They didn't answer my hail."
"They're not on the Kalrass; we found an old Vanya cruiser crashed near here, we're repairing it now."
"Ah, I see," she nodded. That explained quite a bit, including why their old ship wasn't nearby. "You're looking well," she added, looking him over briefly before making the judgment. "It seems the wandering life suits you."
"It has its perks," he chuckled slightly, relaxing almost visibly. "So, why did the Council want somebody to meet me?"
"I'm not just out here because of the Council, Doruth," she said, shaking her head. "I'm here because I was worried about an old friend. I asked them to let me come out here," she admitted. She was glad to see the more noticeable release of tension for Doruth's body, his mind clearing to let through relief and pleasure at seeing her again.
"Well I know you're no good at lying, so it's safe enough to trust you," he smiled slightly. "Come on out, you two," he said, turning to look at the forest. Jolani's eyes turned to follow his, wondering what he was up to and spotted the powerfully build shewolf and a strangely marked rusty-furred kitten that radiated curiosity and a Force-gift of an unusual nature.
"I'm fairly sure that's not your mate and son." She observed evenly, for all that the three gave off a lot of the indicators.
"No," he chuckled slightly. "Tes, Jay, this is Jolani Panthera. Jolani, Tes and Jay. Picked them up on Nar Shaddaa; Jay's the one who contacted the Order."
"I remember," the Tigress said, raising an eyebrow slightly and looking at the kit. "I'll admit; I'd expected somebody a bit older."
"Everybody does," he shrugged easily as he studied her, or rather her 'saber and ship, with a critical and very curious eye.
"Interested in technology?" She smiled.
"That's like asking if Coruscant has buildings," Doruth chuckled. "How'd you get out here? Finally learn how to pilot a ship?"
"Droid pilot," she chuckled a little sheepishly, looking over at Tes and noticing the lightsaber the shewolf was wearing. "You're a Knight?" She asked, cocking her head slightly.
"Freelance shipper," Tes shook her head. "I just figured out how to use it."
"*And did she ever mention how she got it?*" Jolani asked Doruth mentally.
"*Found it in a crash. She's not the sort to have killed a Jedi for it. And she is a sensitive, Jolani.*"
"My apologies," the Tigress said, inclining her head towards the shewolf slightly. "Bad habit."
"One generally warranted," Tes accepted gracefully, her slightly protective stance not shifting a bit. "Honor is not well known in the outer rim, regretfully not even among Wolves."
"So, I suppose the question is whether or not I'll be returning to Coruscant alone," Jolani smiled. "You're all welcome at the Temple; the Council wishes to meet with Doruth already, I'm sure they'd be glad to meet you two as well. Especially you, Jay," she added, looking down at the kit who was looking up at her fighter.
"What for?" He asked absently, much more interested her ship that he was giving a hands-on inspection to than her.
"I've tried to explain it already," Doruth chuckled slightly. "Maybe you can do a better job of it."
"I'm not sure it'll help right now," the Tigress smiled, watching him inspect the ship, his talent practically buzzing around him.
"Very true," Doruth nodded. "He does get a little absorbed when he's working."
"Sounds familiar," Jolani smiled. "So, you said you found another ship? Or was that just covering for why your friends were covering you?"
"We found one," he nodded. "The Gurath, according to Jay. Might be a good idea for us to head back there soon too. It's getting close to dark, and the smugglers who owned it before managed to transplant panthacs to the island."
"That would probably be best then," the Tigress agreed, frowning slightly. "Jay? I'll have the ship come closer to the Gurath, but it's too risky being out when panthacs start to hunt."
"Nasty critters," he nodded and made a face. "The droid can get it back to Coruscant?" He asked as he jumped down, though he was fairly sure of the answer already.
"It got it out here from there, it had better be able too," Jolani chuckled. "Otherwise I'll be spending a lot of time looking for somewhere the panthacs aren't."
"Assuming you do not have better accommodations for the return journey." Tes pointed out politely.
"Are you Doruth's former mate?" Jay asked Jolani as innocently as he ever managed the subject. The startled look the Tigress gave him was almost as interesting as the nearly stricken look Doruth did.
"Get used to it." Tes rolled her eyes. "He's incorrigible."
"I see," Jolani murmured, shaking her head. "And no, I'm not."
"Nowhere close," Doruth said, rolling his eyes slightly in exasperation. "Just an old friend, Jay, that's all."
"Oh," he nodded, seeming to understand until his next question to the Tigress. "You going to play with them?"
"Well, I suppose -"
"No." Doruth said simply, the expression on his face as he rested his forehead in his hand suggesting he was getting a headache. "No, Jay, she won't." Jolani looked over at him, cocking her head curiously for a moment before she got it. The Tigress raised her other eyebrow, looking between the Panther and shewolf.
"What have you two been...?"
"Don't blame me," the Panther muttered, shaking his head again. "He grew up on a colony ship, then got himself dropped on Nar Shaddaa, I have nothing to do with the fact that his sex ed's about five years ahead of his body."
"And he's body-shy," Jay added and stuck his tongue out at Doruth, a look that made Tes snicker. "Seriously, freak-out, body-shy." He rolled his eyes in exasperation that was probably close to what he put the adults through. "So I like to know where he's likely to play."
"The only time I yelled was when you didn't give any warning before you opened the door," Doruth muttered, blushing. He was actually doing much better about that at least.
"Yeah, and a bunch of times to hold on a minute even though you were finished." Jay shot back with a bit of a snicker. "You hardly have a body to be shy of, you know."
"Come on," Jolani smiled, trying to keep a straight face and not giggle, "let's get back to your ship for now."
"The kit got that much right." Tes smirked and headed off with a careful eye out for trouble. At least now Jay had someone else to tease and spy on when he wasn't working.
"Jay?" Jolani walked into the engine room where the kit was tinkering with the ion drive of the Gurath. "Can we talk?"
"Sure," he nodded and smiled at her briefly before continuing with his work with the handful of tools scattered around his immediate vicinity.
"Preferably somewhere private," she chuckled slightly, kneeling behind him and watching him work. "I'd like to get a chance to see how strong your talents are, aside from your gift for machines."
That got his attention, though it was a bit confused. "Umm, okay. Where?" He did a last few things to bring his project to a point where he could leave it for a while.
"My quarters?" She offered with a smile. "Or yours, if you'd prefer. Where ever you're more comfortable and can focus. Just not Doruth's," she winked.
"I don't think they'll ever get the smell out." He snickered and stood with a surprising amount of grace for a lanky kit. "My quarters, then."
"And I think they're using them," the Tigress giggled, following him with a brief stop at her room to grab the things she planned on using. "So, how much do you know about the Force?" She asked him.
"Not much," he admitted. "Doruth said it's how my family Gift works, how I work with machines." He nodded back towards the engine room. "I've seen him use it a couple times for hiding and fighting. I don't really get it though."
"I'm not surprised," she nodded slightly. "Have you ever known that something was going to happen, shortly before it happened? Not just the guesses most people have, but knowing it."
Jay thought back, trying to place anything that qualified. Eventually he shook his head. "Not that I can think of."
"Hmm. Well, that's one of the more common talents sensitives develop early on, but not the only one. What about on Nar Shaddaa? Did you ever do something most people couldn't, that you didn't know how to explain?"
"I can't explain what I do with machines," he pointed out with a shrug. "I can turn a twenty credit chip into a two hundred credit one by asking it to. The buildings tell me when I can sneak in for a meal and when and where to run when someone is after me for it." He paused as the door to his small, undecorated quarters opened on their approach and slid closed behind them. "I picked up the language in a couple days, I survived." He dropped to his bunk to look at her and pulled his knees to his chest and rested his chin on them. It made him appear to be very much the young child he really was.
"Something Doruth didn't mention when he introduced me. That blind-jump took me galaxies away, if not further, and dropped me into that pit where no one would even try to talk to me." He looked up with a weak smile. "That's how he got me to follow him, you know. He said 'hello'. It wasn't the promise of a meal or saving my hide or even offering to get me off that world. He was willing to talk to me like I was a person."
"That sounds like him," she smiled. "It was how his Master found him; he grew up there too, in case he didn't mention. And I'm not too surprised about you being from another galaxy; you didn't feel quite the same as somebody from around here." She sat down next to him on the bunk, putting an arm around his shoulders with an almost motherly touch. "It's not a good place to grow up, especially not when you're used to being around a real family."
"Who are probably going just slightly ballistic looking for me," he said softly. "It's been a long time if this is the same reality and time as back home. That drive got the interrogation of the century over what happened, I'm sure."
"It may not be," she admitted. After all; if hyperspace existed, why not other worlds? "Though given the Force's connection to you, I doubt it. It may simply be that they're having a hard time reproducing what sent you here."
"Possible," Jay nodded. "Just about anything is possible with us." He chuckled slightly. "I'd hardly be the first Clawson sent on an extended trip elsewherewhen."
"Your family tends to end up with weird lives I'm guessing," she chuckled, wondering if he'd come up with that word or if it happened often enough that somebody else had for his kin.
"Ever since the line was founded," he nodded. "Five generations now." He paused with a frown. "Maybe six. Trips like this happen a couple dozen times a generation, maybe more now that we're not just a single member in a generation like the first three."
"That... is weird," she agreed. "For what it's worth, I don't think you're too likely to have that happen to you here. I don't think anybody's heard of that happening to anyone before."
"It tends to focus around that generation's leader," he chuckled. "Something I am decidedly not. My oldest sister is a much more likely target than I am in the long run. But I'm still a Clawson and it comes with such risks."
"Very little doesn't," she nodded, rubbing his shoulder. "For what it's worth, while I'm sorry you had to go through what you did, I'm glad you ended up finding Doruth... or that he found you, either way."
"He found me, I just agreed to follow." Jay chuckled and leaned into her touch a bit. "He got both of us the same way in the same week. Rescuing a seriously outclassed and cornered victim of fate."
"I don't know that I'd call Tes a victim of fate," Jolani chuckled. "Maybe of a few of her life choices, but not necessarily fate. Still, thanks to you, he's got a chance to come back home again, if we can convince him he deserves it."
"He didn't even think he was a Knight when he left," Jay sighed. "That's why I worded that first message the way I did. He barely believed me when I told him you said he was not only not considered fallen or a renegade, but was a Knight." He paused and looked up at her green eyes. "Being a Jedi is all he ever wanted. It's the only thing in his entire life that mattered to him, that let him be who he wanted to be."
"It's like that for a lot of people," she nodded. "Especially ones who come to us late. He was doing well too, as I remember. When his Master turned though ... well, imagine somebody you've trusted with your life and soul for the past ten years suddenly turning on you, trying to kill you and everything the two of you stood for. If he comes back, we'll do our best for him. Though it still leaves the question of what you're going to do."
"I know that possibility very well," he said softly, drawing from a heritage of great tragedies and great triumphs. "Me?" He chuckled. "I do what Clawson do. Find what needs fixing and fix it."
From anybody else, she would have thought the statement was almost dangerously arrogant. But from him... she couldn't sense anything except a matter-of-fact belief that that was what his family did.
"Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do in this galaxy that fit that description," she smiled. "Including Jedi training, if you're willing."
"I can take a hint," he smirked at her rather playfully. "And I don't see why not. It's a useful set of skills and you're as close to what my family does here as I've heard of."
"Sorry," she chuckled. "I haven't exactly been recruiting for long. Usually we're dealing with the parents of a prospective student, not the student himself."
"Yeah, I heard about that," he nodded. "It sounds like I'm too old to go the usual route in training."
"At least for the usual time," she nodded. "Though it's not unheard of, just rare. It will help if there's a Knight willing to take you on as soon as you've mastered the basics, of course."
"Like how Doruth got in," he nodded.
"Yes," she nodded. "He might even be willing, though that would take the Council's approval on multiple levels. It would give you time to start learning, at least. Of course, you might find much of the training a little tedious," she chuckled slightly.
"He'll resist that idea," Jay warned her quietly. "He's said it more than once that he's not fit to train a Padawan."
"That might change, after he's had some time to adjust. He also didn't think he was fit to be a Knight, after all. And he might simply return to turn in his lightsaber and leave again," she admitted reluctantly. "Either way, he'll likely have some re-training of his own to do, have to re-take some of his Trials before the Council would even consider it."
"I think he'd approve of that," Jay smiled slightly. "It's what bothered him the most, that they'd waved his last Trial. That he'd done what a Jedi can never do and was a hero for it. That he was never held accountable for what he did, to get what had to be done, done."
"What he did was a serious matter, Jay," Jolani told him gently. "Though not as serious as he thought. He's hardly the first Jedi to blur the line between light and dark in a fight... that he didn't cross the line was what the Council judged him on. Maybe I should try and explain that to him," she chuckled slightly.
"He didn't know any of that," he shook his head. "Or doesn't remember it. He feels so much like Grandma Jessie. Whatever judging was done, whoever and why they were cleared of being in the wrong, it never really registered. And they need to be judged, to face some punishment for their actions. That's what frees the guilt. Being punished in some way by those they accept have the right to." He glanced up. "It's something else my family knows too well. We're the only ones who have ever kept ourselves accountable for what we do in the name of the city's protection. Sometimes fighting the Demon ... the Dark ... makes it stronger."
"You know about the Dark Side?" She asked, a concerned frown dropping the corner of her muzzle slightly.
"Between Doruth's explanation of why he's not a Jedi and not a Sith, and his trying to explain the Force in relation to my family Gift ... yeah, I figured out the basics. I don't get it much better than the general stuff and the Light Side, but I know roughly what it is. I think."
"What do you know about it?" She asked him. "Any of them; I'm curious what you understand about the Force at this point."
Jay settled down to think, trying to separate what he knew from home from what he knew from here and compile it into something that would make some kind of sense.
"It's a universal power that some people can tap into," he began slowly. "Effects of doing so are determined both unconsciously and consciously, depending on training, will and circumstances and can be nearly anything. There is a Light Side that Jedi use and a Dark Side that Sith use, which, frankly, doesn't make any sense to me at all."
"Unfortunately, it's not quite so clear-cut as that," she admitted. "Anybody with the ability to tap the Force can use either the Light or the Dark." She thought about it, trying to think of how to explain it to him. She knew the difference herself, but it was difficult to explain at times.
"You know that feeling you get sometimes, when you're in a situation where you just know that something's not right?" She asked him. "Those shivers up and down your spine that make your fur stand on end?"
"Yeah," he nodded.
"That's a part of it. When you're at peace, when you're aware of the living Force around you, it's almost like being in the arms of a trusted friend. The Dark side is different; cold, unliving, wrong. When you feel a place that is strong in the Dark side, it gives you that shivery feeling, that feeling that something isn't right about the place or person you're feeling.
"The Light side of the Force is like the waters of the ocean; it flows, it has its currents, it brings life to everything. But despite all its activity, it's ultimately peaceful, tranquil. The Dark side is like a hurricane in that ocean; potent, holding a great deal of energy, but bringing destruction in its wake."
Jay thought about that for a while, working it around what he understood of how power and universal effects worked and eventually nodded. It wasn't something he agreed with yet, but he understood how the two descriptions came about. "Like two sides of the same coin?"
"In a way," she nodded. "Though it's more like the difference between life and death. They're tied together, both integral parts of the universe. But there's more to it than just two different ways at looking at the same thing. When the Dark side is strong enough, you can see its corrupting influence. Just like the hurricane blows itself out, the Dark side destroys its instruments, given time."
"Which leaves openings for life to come back," he nodded seriously. "Death and destruction are necessary. Without it, life stagnates."
"To an extent," she agreed. "It's the reason most Jedi don't fight to hold onto life when our time is up. The key is to stay balanced though. You've heard of what the Sith are capable of, yes? Of the evil they've tried to bring into the galaxy?"
"Bits and pieces," he nodded, not nearly as afraid of them when talking theory as when he though he was sitting across the table from one. "Enough to know I want to stay as far away from them as I can manage."
"They're a prime example of what happens when somebody gives themselves entirely to the Dark," she explained. "Doruth's old Master is another. Not everybody who turns to the Dark side opposes the Light actively, but they do tend to become what most people would call monsters. The power the Dark side offers is tempting. It allowed Doruth to defeat his Master when he had to. But at the same time, if he hadn't managed to turn back, it would have turned him into the very thing he defeated."
Jay shuddered and nodded, the story far too personal to his family not to strike a nerve. "That much we have in common," he said softly. "The Demon and the Dark. The difference is the Demon has to be fought to keep it from controlling you. The Dark is temping and seductive, but not so active in its hunt for converts."
"The Dark itself, no," she agreed, rubbing his shoulder gently. "It may be that the Demon you're talking about was one of its creatures at some point. They do tend to try and corrupt people, especially good ones."
"I wouldn't be surprised," he nodded. "The Demon seems to be the curse for my family's Gift. Others who have Gifts and Talents say they don't face anything like it. It's the price of our power. To access it in full, you have to fight the Demon inside as well."
"If nothing else, maybe we can help make that fight easier for you," she said softly, squeezing his arm. "You're too young to have to deal with something like that."
"It's a choice we have," he smiled slightly, warmed by the repeated offer. "It doesn't usually come till puberty, so I've got a couple years to go before it's much of an issue. Not everybody chooses to access the full Gift they could, so they don't have to face a lifetime with the Demon. Most of us do, because they want to, or because they don't see another choice. Or for Great-grandpa Jake, because he didn't realize it was a choice. He didn't have anyone to teach him how it worked or what choices he had like the rest of us did. Help keeping it under control would be nice, though. It's not an easy thing to keep control of."
"It's also close to the first lessons we teach," she smiled. "Once you learn to use the Force, we start teaching how to resist the Dark. A lot of the same methods would probably help."
"Probably," he nodded. "If the Dark is something inside you to resist, it probably is very similar, whether or not the source is."
"We'll deal with it when it comes," she nodded, nuzzling him lightly as she decided to put the tests off for a while.
"We always do," he chuckled and relaxed into the contact with a happy purr.
Jolani stretched as she came out of a deep meditation, now prepared to have a serious, and private, conversation with Doruth about what he was going to do. It could go so many ways, several of which she did not think would be for the best. She was sure it would be in his best interests to return to the Order, accept additional training and take his place as a true Jedi Knight. She knew he could do it, having seen him.
It would be so much better for Jay as well. The kit may not be heavily attached to Doruth, but he clearly liked the Panther and could be swayed in his choices by him. It was possible it even went both ways.
She stood with a graceful stretched and body and self check that was as instinctive as it was useful before stepping out of her quarters, one meant for a Padawan as the lovers had claimed the Master's quarters before she'd arrived. It was still quite sufficient for her needs while they were on this world and for the short trip to Coruscant.
Her footsteps were light and easy as she walked through the cleaned halls to the galley, privately rather amazed what the three of them had accomplished in such a short time.
"Good morning, Doruth." She smiled easily at him; pleased to see he was alone.
"Morning," the Panther smiled back at her, taking a drink from a small, steaming cup of tea. "Rest well?" He asked her, pushing a second cup towards her.
"Yes," she nodded and accepted the cup, breathing deeply of its soothing fragrance before taking a sip. "I hoped to talk to you a bit today."
"Now's probably as good a time as any," he said easily and she nodded before taking a seat at the small table in the room and motioned him to sit as well.
"Have you decided what you are going to do?" She asked evenly.
"Not entirely, yet," he admitted. "It's been a long time."
"What are your concerns in returning to the Order?" She asked gently, pleased that he was still at least partly open to it.
"Me," he said simply. He leaned back in his seat, knowing that wouldn't be enough of an answer. "Ever since that fight over Dantooine, I've had a hard time keeping the anger in check. How much did Jay tell you about when he met me?"
"Very little," she admitted. "I gathered you saved him from a serious beating at least."
"Yeah," he nodded. "Gang of wolves caught him stealing some creds. I tried to talk them down, but... it didn't work. I ended up killing three of them before they really knew what was happening."
"All right," she nodded, not the least bit surprised. "A bit extreme, but hardly Dark." She cocked her head slightly and regarded him in silence for a time. "If you return, you will be trained again, go through a new set of Trials. The Counsel will be watching you carefully. All that was decided five years ago was that you were not unredeemable. Even if it didn't sound that way."
"Killing them was a bit extreme," he agreed. "Enjoying it was going too far though. Do you really think they can redeem that? Every time I get into a fight, the bloodlust is right there, under the surface."
"Do you trust me to tell you the truth?" She looked at him seriously.
"As you see it," he nodded.
"You are not Dark, Doruth." She told him, as blunt a statement as she'd ever made. "The Dark was palatable in you five years ago. Now it is all but gone. You did that on your own, because of your own nature and will. Let the Masters help you take those last few steps to be who you want to be."
The Panther was quiet for a few long moments. Eventually, he spoke, the tone of his voice older than he was by far.
"Do you honestly believe I'll ever be able to be trusted with being a full Jedi?"
"Yes," Jolani nodded without hesitation. "You are not the first Jedi to wrestle with giving into the Dark for a desperate battle. You will not be the last. It does not mean you can never be a Jedi." She paused, soothing her own strong emotions on the subject. "You would make such a fine Jedi, Doruth. The desire to do what is right is so strong in you not even giving into the Darkness could quench it. That is such a rare trait, even among Jedi, it is to be cherished and nurtured, and the Council recognizes that."
"I hope you, and they, are right," he murmured. "Do me a favor?"
"If I can," she nodded.
He pulled a flask out of his pocket, sliding it across the table to her. "Hang on to this for me? If I'm going to try and make it as a Jedi again, I'm going to have to learn to keep things under wraps without that."
"You will make it, Doruth." She said with full confidence and took the flask, slipping it into a pocket in her robe until she could put it in her quarters and reached out to put her hand over his. "I'm sure of it."
"Thanks," he smiled, turning his hand to give hers a light squeeze.
"Are you really going to go back to them?" Jay asked quietly as Doruth stepped out of the sonic shower a few days later. Fortunately for Doruth's cheeks, he'd learned to pull on some shorts before getting out by now.
"Yeah, I think am," he nodded, grabbing a brush and smoothing his short, dense fur out. "Thanks," he smiled down at the kit.
"For what?" He looked up in confusion. "And I'm glad you're going back. You belong where your heart is."
"Yeah, but if you hadn't sent that message to the Temple I probably wouldn't be going back," Doruth pointed out with a smile. "That's what the 'thanks' was for, by the way."
"Oh," he nodded. "Okay. You're welcome." He added with a smile, his early upbringing showing again.
"You'll get it one of these days, probably," Doruth chuckled. "So, I guess you'll be meeting the Council after all."
"Yap," he nodded with an impish grin. "My father would feel sorry for them. I don't."
"Take this the right way, kiddo, but I think I agree with your father," Doruth smirked. "Just remember, they mean well."
"Oh, I remember," he grinned a little wider. "And I'll be a good little kit as long as they behave in a respectable manner."
"Just remember, I have to talk to them to," Doruth chuckled, shaking his head. "And probably after they're done talking to you, so try not to put 'em in a bad mood, okay?"
"Okay," Jay settled quickly. "I'll be good."
"Just don't mess around with anybody's life support," the Panther smiled, reaching down to squeeze Jay's shoulder. "There might be a Celegian or two there yet. You're a good kit; I'm sure it'll work out fine."
Jay's face was all but plastered to the view window in the Gurath's observation deck/meditation space as they approached Coruscant. The excitement in his twitching tail added a physical note to what he was broadcasting clearly to anyone in range. It was just so much going on, both in the space around them with all the other ships and on the city-world itself that he was looking rather like a ferret on speed.
"It's a hell of a view, isn't it?" Doruth chuckled, putting a hand on Jay's shoulder, wearing his robes for the first time in longer than he cared to think. "It goes down for miles."
"I know," the kit breathed in a mixture of awe and near-disbelief. "The infrastructure it must have to maintain the population ...." He shivered in excitement at getting his hands on a place like that.
"Takes most of the rest of the planets in the system," the Panther nodded and got a surprised look for it. "Of course, Coruscant's the capital of the Republic. Ask any of the politicians, they'd point out that it has to be this impressive to live up to its responsibilities. Just don't go exploring too far down, okay? At least not alone."
"No problem," he nodded and turned back to the glittering mass of technology. "I would have thought you'd have invested in hydroponics and other tech-growing methods for most of your needs."
"For the plants and such they do," Doruth nodded, "but you're talking about billions of people, mineral requirements, and a few other things the rich folk want naturally, rather than grown in a lab. There aren't many other planets in the system, either."
"Right," Jay could only shake his head at how silly people could be. "Weird people."
"You don't know the half of it," Doruth chuckled. "But then, they run most of the planet. Throw a rock and you'll hit somebody who knows exactly how much red tape you're going to have to go through for throwing it. The Temple's a lot saner though."
"Luckily for them," he murmured, quite serious about it. "Bureaucrats hate Clawsons." He grinned a bit impishly. "Mostly 'cause they need us too much to control us."
"You think they hate Clawsons, you should hear what a few of them think about Jedi," Jolani said softly, walking into the observation area. "We'll be landing soon though, and you two won't have to deal with them for some time."
"A good thing, usually." Jay smiled and watched the approach eagerly. His gaze soon found its way to a particular set of spires. "That's the Temple."
"Yep," Doruth nodded. "It's the same as it's always been," he observed with a quiet murmur.
"It doesn't change often," Jolani agreed.
"How long as it looked like that?" Jay asked curiously at the feeling of incredible age he was starting to comprehend from the entire world's infrastructure. A length that was likely longer than civilization had existed for his own kind.
"At least fifteen hundred years," Jolani said easily. "We've occasionally added rooms, but it hasn't changed much since the last Sith Wars. There are some places that are fifteen, twenty-thousand years old, though they've been moved from their original location since."
"How friggin' old is this society?" Jay turned to stare at her with eyes wide in shock at trying to comprehend the numbers and even more that the world itself was backing them up.
"The hyperdrive was developed and spread about...." Jolani thought, pulling the numbers together mentally, "...about twenty-four, twenty-five thousand years ago. The Republic formed shortly after that, with the increase in star travel. The Jedi Order came not too much later, as different Force traditions gathered to basically compare notes.
"We've had our shake-ups since then, but the Republic, and the Jedi, have survived. I take it you don't have any societies on your world that have lasted that long?" She asked, looking down at his saucer-like amber eyes and shock so deep it was palatable.
"Lady, my kind hasn't lasted that long," he told her bluntly, a little too much in shock to put it any softer.
"Ah. I'm sorry," she apologized, "I didn't know. If it helps, not every race in the Republic has that length to their history, and we've lost most of our history beyond the last five to ten thousand years."
Jay nodded slowly, more an acceptance of things as he processed the numbers than her actual words.
"It's okay." He finally managed as he calmed down. "I'm just used to thinking in decades, with centuries a big marker. We only build our first real starship forty-three years ago, and two thirds of its inter-stellar capabilities were copied off an invader's colony-cruiser we captured seventy years ago." He shook his head a bit. "With how close the tech is to what I'm used to, I was thinking this wouldn't be more than a few centuries old, maybe a thousand on the outside."
"After developing the hyperdrive, our basic technology hasn't improved too drastically," she admitted. "The basic design of a lightsaber hasn't changed in ten thousand years or more."
"Except for personal modifications," Doruth chuckled slightly, patting his own unusually designed blade where it hung on his belt. "And somehow, I have a feeling that might be changing if you have anything to say about that," he added, looking down at Jay.
"Fuck yes," the kit exclaimed, not quite calm enough to catch his language yet. "I mean really, it's ridiculous that technology is that stagnant. It's so unhealthy." He cut himself off before he got into a full-blown rant on the subject, but it was impossible for either Jedi present to miss his passion about technology.
"Relax, Jay," Doruth said firmly, though gently, squeezing the kit's shoulder. "You don't need to get yourself wound up right now."
"Right," he took a deep breath and turned to focus on his natural element, a way of thinking and existing that came as natural as breathing did. It didn't take long before the fundamentally similar chatter of ships and buildings settled him considerably. No matter how strange the people, this stayed the same, and it was soothing on a level Jay barely understood.
The Gurath approached the landing pad for the Temple quickly, the three watching in near silence as they approached, a figure in pale robes waiting for them.
"Thank you, Mistress," Jolani said just before they touched down. "They're waiting for us," she explained to Doruth and Jay, just before Tes called back on the intercom.
"We've touched down; hatch'll be open by the time you guys are there."
Jay nodded and settled into a somewhat familiar roll of following the adults and trying not to talk too much. They met up with Tes near the hatch, then started off onto the landing pad where a tall, slender Ferret fem was waiting there to greet them with a polite bow that Jolani and Doruth returned reflexively.
"Mistress Kylyanni," Jolani said respectfully.
"Jolani," the Ferret said with a smile, standing up. "I already know Doruth, but you seem to have picked up some additional friends since you left."
"Jay Clawson and Tes Ramaris, Master Kylyanni," Doruth explained as he introduced them. "I believe Jolani mentioned them in her report."
"That she did. Welcome to the Temple, Jay," Kylyanni said easily, kneeling to be a bit closer to Jay's eye-level and instantly became the focus of his bright amber eyes and sharp intellect as well as a light touch of his Gift.
"Thank you," he paused with a bit of a frown. "Is it Master or Mistress Kylyanni?" He asked as politely as he could and spoke her name very carefully to get the odd arrangement of sounds to come out right.
"Master," she answered easily. "Jolani calls me Mistress because she was my Padawan, but Master is my rank to others. Rather like the reason you probably didn't call your father 'mister' or 'sir.'"
Jay nodded in understanding. "Thank you, Master Kylyanni."
"You're welcome, Jay," she smiled, and then cocked her head slightly, her beady black eyes shining with a strange expressiveness. "You really aren't from anywhere around here, are you? I wasn't sure if that part of the report was accurate."
"No, I am not, Master Kylyanni." He nodded, his voice quiet. "I am just not sure how far out home is."
"You'll find it some day," she told him, putting a small hand on his shoulder. "Trust the Force; it brought you here for a reason, and it will see you home as well."
"I know, Master." he smiled slightly at her with much the same kind of calm certainty that she exuded, but his was untrained; an honest belief in whatever he did believe in that said he'd go home one day.
"Unfortunately, you have a meeting with the Council soon, so we can't talk too much. I hope to see you around the Temple," she said, not giving any impression of the 'patronizing adult' he was used to meeting when he was being told he was supposed to be on his best behavior and got a slightly warmer smile for it.
"I expect you will, Master." He said as she stood and motioned the others to follow her to the Council Chambers.
Jay closed his eyes and focused on keep himself in check so Doruth wouldn't catch hell from an irritated Council. It was so much easier when he didn't need to behave. Playing nice with bureaucrats of any kind rankled and these were no different from what he knew, which he told himself was very little to judge them on.
He still hated behaving.
When the large double doors slid open to admit him his eyes were drawn to the city beyond them and the 360-degree panorama it presented, calling to him. It took a moment, and a strong mental reminder, to focus on the array of races seated in a half circle around him and not the equipment and city.
"Welcome, kit," one of them, a tall Dobie wearing the traditional robes said in a deep voice. "So you are aware, some of us only speak telepathically. I am Master Shan."
"I understand, Master Shan," he inclined his head slightly; uncertain he'd be able to hear it but willing to roll with however that ended up working.
"*I am the one Master Shan is referring to, mostly,*" a mental voice said. It gave the impression of a matronly figure, but his attention was drawn to a small, white-furred creature with long fluffy ears barely larger than a regular cat. "*Master Essani. You are Jay Clawson, yes?*"
"Yes, Master Essani." He faced who was talking by force of training and inclined his head in respect.
"*We know you've already been told this, but thank you for contacting us about Doruth. We've been looking for him, but he managed to hide himself rather well.*"
"He hides well when he wishes too," he nodded to her. "I do not think he was ready to be found until recently, Master."
"*That may well be the case,*" the small creature said with a nod of her head, her fur color shifting slightly to a pale cream. "*The Force often brings things together when it is time.*"
"You do believe that he wishes to join the Order again?" Master Shan asked him. "To become a Knight, despite his disappearance and return to his homeworld, and the life that went with it?"
"It is what he has said more than once," the kit nodded seriously. "That this, being a Jedi, was the only thing that allowed him to be what he wanted to be." He paused and glanced around the small assembly, trying to determine how to say what needed to be said. Eventually he just went with the truth as he knew it. "He has also said that the reason he did not return before was because he judged himself unfit to be a Jedi when you made him a Knight. He holds the title and responsibilities in too high a regard to accept it when he went against everything it means, even if it was to do what had to be done."
"Do you believe he was correct to do so?"
"Which part?" Jay asked him with a slight cock of his head.
"Either." Master Shan's eyes focused on him, almost seeming to look through him as the Dobie waited for his answer.
"I believe he thought so," Jay almost rolled his eyes in annoyance at the evasiveness. "What little I know of the events indicates he was probably right in his choices."
"Understood. We've been told that you are interested in beginning training to become a Jedi?"
"Yes, Master Shan," he inclined his head to the Dobie as he struggled a bit to put his manners back in place.
"*We can tell that you're a sensitive,*" Essani told him. "*However, we can't be sure of how strong your gifts are. We would like to run some tests to help determine that.*"
"Sure," he nodded. This part he was expecting. "Master Essani." He added as a polite afterthought.
"*Relax yourself, Jay,*" she said easily, her fluffy tail swaying behind her. "*For this, it's best of you are calm.*"
"When you're ready," Master Shan explained, pulling what looked for all the world like a small laptop out from behind the cushions he was sitting on, "I'll begin displaying images on the screen. You'll need to try and reach out, sense what they are, and tell us what you see."
The kit nodded and relaxed, slipping almost fully into the welcoming embrace of machine chatter and focused lightly on the device Master Shan was holding.
The Dobie nodded almost imperceptibly, tapping something on the panel, his expression devoid of indication of whether or not Jay was right.
"A zarymok," the kit said, recognizing the picture the computer gave him from Doruth's hunting trips. The pattern continued for several minutes, the computer telling him what each image was so he could tell them.
"*What is the image on the locket in the pocket of Master Shan's robe?*" Essani asked him abruptly, just as the Dobie was closing the computer.
Jay reached out, searching for the small object to ask what was inside it. It was harder than normal; the locket was a simple one, no technology involved in it, only simple handicraft. Eventually he managed to get through and the quiet 'voice' of the locket answered him.
"Master Shan's mate," he answered, nodding towards the pink-skinned twi'lek male that had been silent so far. "Master Surool."
"*Interesting,*" the kushiban murmured mentally. "*I'd thought you were a cyber-telepath, but it seems to go deeper than that. Both very rare gifts.*"
"It is my family Gift," Jay told her easily. "It goes well beyond just communication, that is simply what you have asked me for so far."
"*I see,*" she nodded.
"You will have to work on controlling that in the future," Master Shan smiled, putting the computer away. "For a moment I'd thought you'd had training with your sensory abilities before. It's exceedingly rare for a new student to get all of them correct. What is the extent of your ability so far?"
"If it has been crafted, I can get it to tell me things," Jay began, trying to put an order of some kind on what he could do. "The more advanced the technology or more intensely crafted the item, the easier it is. Your handhelds all but couldn't wait to tell me what was going on. Your locket took some coaxing.
"I can 'help' crafted things get back to their correct state. The ship we came in, Gurath, had crashed and seen fifteen years in the elements and battle damage when we found him. Almost nothing was functional. What you see now is a little over twenty days work.
"Some things, like credit chips, I can convince to change their information. A twenty to a two hundred for example. Or for a security camera and recorder to 'forget' it saw me.
"I'm fairly good at tweaking with technology too, though nothing like I'll be able to do when my Gift comes into it's full in a couple years. According to family history, there really are no limits to how far I will be able to break the laws of physics with a device then. It's a matter of imagination and need. A lot more comes with the full Gift too, good and bad."
"I see," the Dobie murmured, nodding. Jay couldn't help but notice as a pale green tint seemed to pass through Essani's coat. "You can stop doing this too, if you wish to, correct?"
"Yes," he nodded with a bit of a shrug. "Just like I can stop listening to people when I want to. It's just part of the natural environment for us."
Jay paused and focused on Master Essani. "Does your color signify something, Master Essani?"
"*Emotional state,*" the kushiban explained easily. "*That was just the curiosity of finding such a new gift that's so strong in an entire family.*"
Jay nodded slightly. "We are six generations with the Gift now. I have had some training in using and controlling it, just none in the last two years since I ended up here."
"*Are you willing to refrain from using it in the remainder of the tests?*"
"All right." He nodded, uncertain if he could when under pressure like this, but willing to do his best. "I will do my best."
"If it helps, realize that you're not being tested to join right now; it's more like seeing how far along you already are," Master Shan offered.
"I understand, Master Shan." He responded quietly.
Doruth opened his eyes as he came out of a meditative rest in preparation for facing the Council. Jay was coming out, and the kit was very worn out, not terribly happy and very relieved to be out of there. None of which were of particular surprise.
"How'd it go?" The Panther asked him as he stood.
"Tiring," he grumbled with a stretch. "I don't think they like that I don't see being a Jedi as the only thing worth doing in life."
"They'll probably come around eventually if that's the issue," Doruth said reassuringly. "They usually accept it when somebody has another calling. Did they mention if I should come in, or if they wanted to talk for a while first?"
"It's your turn," he yawned. "I'm going back to Gurath for a nap unless you'd like me to stay."
"Get some rest," the Panther smiled, starting towards lift to the Council's chamber. "Sleep well, Jay."
"Good luck," he smiled at him and patted Doruth's leg on his way to the lift down.
"Thanks," the Panther murmured as he rode the lift up, focusing on staying calm before the meeting. He almost wished that he'd hit the sparring rooms instead of waiting in one of the meditation chambers.
"Welcome back, Jedi Parn." Master Shan greeted him solemnly as he stopped in the center of the ring of twelve chairs, most of them occupied.
"Thank you, Master Shan," Doruth said, bowing respectfully. There were a couple new faces there, but literally only a couple. The majority of them were the same Masters whom he'd reported to after his last battle as a Jedi, even the same ones who had agreed to let his Master take him on as a Padawan.
It felt very much like he was coming home.
"Perhaps you would care to bring us up to date." The Dobie asked, though no one doubted it was not a question so much as an order.
"There's not too much to say," Doruth admitted. "After I left I spent the first months in meditation and contemplation at Pelgrin. I finally reached the point where I couldn't make any more headway against the darkness inside me.
"That's when I started wandering around the Outer Rim, and fell back on my old habits from before Master... before I joined the Order. I was mostly trying to stay out of trouble, keep the Dark Side from getting any more of a hold on me. Since the battle, I've had a very difficult time keeping my anger in check during combat.
"Eventually I made my way back to Nar Shaddaa. After about a year there, I met Jay and Tes, leading to the events that bring me back here."
"How long have you known them?" Master Shan asked.
"Tes, about a month," Doruth answered easily. "Jay, a week longer than that."
"Why did you press the kit to join us?" A brilliantly shimmering silver-feathered Peacock asked him.
"Even I could sense his talent, Master T'qu'l," Doruth answered respectfully. "His skills are strong; even without training he was manifesting abilities that many Padawans find difficult. At the very least, leaving him to learn to control his skills alone on Nar Shaddaa would be inviting him to be taken advantage of, even fall to the Dark Side."
"Is it your wish to rejoin us?" Master Shan got back to the subject standing before them before Master T'qu'l could press about the suitability of the kit any more.
"...Yes, Master Shan," Doruth said after a moment's thought to make sure that, now that it was coming down to it, it was still true. "I've realized that leaving didn't help anything."
"You do understand that though you are a Knight, you will not be assigned a mission, or allowed to take a Padawan, until you have completed retraining and passed a series of tests much like your Trails?" The Dobie's dark brown eyes bore into him.
"I understand," Doruth nodded, his blue eyes meeting Shan's with complete understanding in them. "Given all that has happened, I would be concerned if that was not to be the case."
"*Knight Parn,*" Master Essani addressed him. "*Open your mind to me.*"
"Yes, Master." He relaxed in internal shields to allow the powerful telepath to browse and understand what words did a poor job of conveying. If felt like an eternity before she withdrew and he put his shields back in place, though he knew it would not have taken her more than a few minutes.
"Now," the Dobie nodded with a small smile of approval, "tell us of this kit."
"I hope he didn't leave too bad a first impression," the Panther chuckled slightly, starting to explain all he knew, and what he'd observed, about Jay.
"We can not afford not to train the kit." Master Yamari, a Mouse fem with an unnatural shade of rich blue fur, opened the Council discussion on what they had learned. "The Darkness has too strong a hold on his family to allow such a potent talent to go unguided."
"Least we face him in a decade or two with his full gifts and Darksider training." A Lioness rumbled in warning. "He has too little sense of right and wrong already."
"*Agreed, Master Bas'rath,*" Master Essani nodded. "*Though I believe much of his ambivalence can be traced to his lack of understanding, as with most students.*"
"We will have to take care, however," Master Surool said, his head-tail emphasizing his words. "He is an explorer by nature; we will have to make sure he does not delve too deeply into things best left alone."
"Assuming we can make him understand that such things exist," a brightly-colored Frilled Lizard in the corner said, raising a slender, clawed finger, his voice heavily accented. "I agree that the kit must be trained to resist the call of the Dark Side, especially given his own explanation of his family's gift. I do not believe he should be trained as a Jedi. His gift is too dangerous as it stands; it would be irresponsible to make him a greater threat."
Master Essani regarded him for a time. "*I believe you over-estimate anyone's ability to prevent him from learning what he takes a mind to.*"
"As much as I dislike the idea, I must agree," Master Bas'rath rumbled, her multitude of long, tightly bound braids quivering with the vibration. "Refusing to teach him, if he chooses to want it, is tantamount to giving the first Darksider with any training a free key into his mind."
"I must agree, Master Noloth," Master Shan nodded. "We must be cautious, yes, but if he feels that we are holding him back, he will seek out whatever means are necessary to remedy the situation. If we deny him training, we must have what he feels are good reasons for it."
"He is only a kit," the Lizard pointed out.
"And a brilliant one," Master Surool countered. "We must keep in mind our own lessons, Master Noloth. In all the millennia the Order has existed, we have only banned the teaching of a handful of techniques. The Council has recognized that it is not the final arbiter of what a scholar may learn, kit or otherwise."
"I concede your point," Master Noloth said, inclining his head towards the pink-skinned twi'lek across from him.
"I believe, then, that we all agree that Clawson must be trained, though watched closely throughout his training?" The question came from the youngest member of the Council, a Grey Fox whose blue eyes shone brightly as she looked at her colleagues.
"I believe so, Master Kareth." Master Shan nodded. "Are there any additional objections, before we come to a consensus?" He asked, looking at the rest of the Council and received the variety of signals that indicated there were none.
"*With that agreed, may I suggest a Jedi to watch over him during his training with us, wherever that leads?*" Master Essani said, her long ears flopping to one side as she looked at each of her constituents.
"Of course," Master Shan nodded. "Who would you recommend?"
"*I would take him on,*" she said simply, knowing they knew her qualifications and most of her reasons in full.
"Unusual for a member of the Council to take on another student, but I must agree that you would be an excellent choice," Master Shan inclined his head towards the kushiban. "As you are clearly willing, I believe we all approve?" He glanced around, receiving no objections. "Then I believe we can enter the kit into the roster, Master Kareth."
"Already being done," the grey and rust-furred vixen chuckled, finishing the entry into her console. "Jedi Parn, or the smuggler as our next order of business?"
"Jedi Parn," Master Shan said firmly. "What did you learn in your examination, Master Essani?"
"*He is still conflicted, though not about his desire to rejoin the Order,*" the kushiban explained. "*He was not exaggerating when he said that the Dark Side still has a grip on him, though it is not nearly as strong as it once was. I fear that much of it is inescapable. Violence is in his nature, and given his history it tends to manifest when he is angered.*"
"Hardly unusual for a strong predator race," a midnight black Panther reminded her and the half of the Council that were not. "Violence and bloodshed is what makes us the potent warriors and hunters that we are, not an offence to the Light."
"*True,*" she agreed softly, "*He can control it now. Not as well as he could before the battle, but better than he could when he reported what happened to us. His doubts are about that control, and about whether or not the entirety of his training was flawed.*"
"A valid concern," Master Noloth pointed out, "given his Master's fate."
"*Granted,*" Master Essani nodded. "*However, Master Zykell actually trained him quite well. It was not until he went to Dxun during Jedi Parn's final trial that he was turned to the Dark Side. He simply also did an excellent job of trying to corrupt his Padawan, though he ultimately failed. At heart, Doruth Parn is still Jedi. He is still a skillful warrior, albeit one who is prone to draw on his anger. He is skilled in the use of the Force, and the Force is his ally, as much as it is ours.*"
"Then you don't recommend retraining?" Master Kareth asked.
"*I do not recommend restarting his training,*" Master Essani clarified. "*Before he is sent on missions, especially before he begins training a Padawan, he will need to spend time overcoming his doubts, and his conflicted feelings about Master Zykell.*"
"It sounds as if he has come a long way in redeeming himself to the Light on his own," Master Bas'rath commented with a grudging respect she rarely gave anyone.
"*I believe he has,*" Master Essani said, her coat rippling with a golden color they recognized as a pleased one. "*I feel he needs help to finish the journey though.*"
"The kit has great insight into people to know what Doruth needed and wanted before Jedi Parn himself did," Master Yamari commented respectfully. "Most interesting given he shows little understanding or talents towards the living."
"Assistance I believe we can arrange," Master Noloth said, folding his slender scaled fingers as he thought. "Clearly, he should spend some time studying in the Temple Spire. But I believe he should also spend some time at the meditative canyon on Ambria. Pelgrin is an excellent place to seek tranquility, but the Jedi there have other duties. On Ambria, it will be easier for one of the caretakers to focus on his healing."
"Agreed," Master Shan said as he leaned back into his padded half-sphere of a chair. "Which brings up the shewolf. I believe they are more attached to each other than either realize just yet."
"It is very possible," Kareth agreed. "I had that feeling as well, though I doubt they are likely to become mates at any point."
"No, but she is likely to make a fine Custos for him with a little training, if they agree." A grizzled black Wolf commented. "She has begun to see him as a packmate."
"She's an Alpha without a pack," his shewolf mate shot back with a rumbling chuckle. "And she was courting you too."
"*You didn't have to be a sensitive to see that,*" Master Essani chuckled mentally.
"Which leaves us needing a recommendation for the Reassignment Council," Master Noloth pointed out. "I doubt it would be a particularly good thing for them to remain together during Jedi Parn's meditation."
"*Agreed,*" Master Essani chuckled slightly. "*However, she is a sensitive, and she does have some very useful talents. She may not have the skill or dedication to become a Jedi, but I believe she would be quite useful as a Custos or supply-runner. She seems to be more willing to work along with us than many smugglers as well,*" the kushiban pointed out. "*She did return the lightsaber she found, after all.*"
"And only asked for the name of the Jedi it had belonged to in exchange." Master Charn nodded, his thick black tail twitching slightly.
"It is part of our culture." Master Ryul answered the Panther's curiosity. "To honor a fallen warrior whose death has helped us survive. His 'saber protected her life many times. She will offer him thanks by name now and no longer be in his debt for the use of his weapon."
"She would also be good to have available when we have to put Jedi in dangerous situations." Master T'qu'l added. "And what she asks is reasonable, you must admit."
"Most unusual for a smuggler," Master Shan chuckled lightly.
"Not for a Wolf." Master Karyk shook her head, her thick dark grey mane of hair flowing down her back.
"Quite true," Master Ryul nodded to his mate.
"*Master Ryul, do you believe we should try training her as a Custos?*" Master Essani focused on the one with the deepest instinctive understanding of Tes. "*Or would we be better off training her as a supply-runner, given the difficulty we have in finding smugglers willing to work with us when it is necessary?*"
"She is likely to be most content as a supply-runner," the old Wolf inclined his head. "But she is one that will take any and all training we are willing to offer. Custos training will be most welcome."
"What he's trying to say," his mate piped up with a smirk, "is that offer her the position of supply-runner with training in other disciplines when she is not occupied with that."
"I think that would be a workable solution," Master Noloth agreed. "It would also give us the opportunity to remain in contact, in case she ever decided to look for a more formal involvement with the Order or the JediCorps."
"It would also give us access to her pups when she finds a worthy mate." Master Ryul pointed out. "She is young yet. It is quite likely she will breed and even more likely that the pups will be sensitives as their mother."
"And sire, I expect, given reactions so far." Master Karyk chuckled at her mate.
"Given reactions so far, their sire is likely to be Jedi himself," Master Shan chuckled. "But yes, that is a benefit. As well as having the parents as allies if it happens, rather than continuing the impression of Jedi as pup-snatchers. I believe we have determined a course of action here then, yes?"
"*Yes,*" Master Essani nodded slightly to general agreement around the circle.
Jay relaxed easily by a fishpond in one of the Temple gardens, his gaze on the brightly colored fish that swam lazily around the clear water and his mind contemplating everything that hadn't been said when he was told that Master Essani would oversee his training. He didn't need to be able to read minds to know that it was most unusual, and that the implications of it did not sit well with several of the Council members, the Lizard and Lioness in particular.
"So, how did it go?" Doruth asked, sitting down on the grass next to Jay.
"Master Essani is overseeing my training," he recounted the events of the short meeting. "And a couple of them are very unhappy about it. You?" He looked up.
"It's not the usual practice for a member of the Council to take on a new Padawan," Doruth explained. "They're probably just worried about her keeping up her duties and training you when the time comes. Masters Noloth and Bas'rath, right?"
"The Lizard and the Lioness?" He chuckled. "Yeah. But I'm not a Padawan. She's just to make sure I don't find something I shouldn't while I'm digging around in my free time."
"Yep, those two," Doruth chuckled. "And she's probably going to be more than a kit-sitter, Jay. She's a damned good teacher," he said respectfully. "Though they probably are a little worried you'll manage to make something work that shouldn't anymore. And don't worry about the Lizard, he didn't want me joining at first either. I think his favorite saying is 'too old to start training.'"
"Which probably gets said to anyone who can talk back," Jay snickered and played his fingers in the water for the fish to nibble at. "Much less is willing to."
"That's about right," Doruth chuckled. "I think you'll like Master Essani though. She's pretty cool about things."
"So it went that badly?" Jay asked quietly.
"Should've known you wouldn't forget about it," Doruth chuckled. "At least not without an engine to take apart instead. It went pretty well, actually. They've taken me back, and even said that the retraining will be mostly making sure I understand the assorted parts of the Jedi Code again, rather than making me prove I know how to do what I can do. But they've told me to go to one of the off-world centers of the Jedi, to help come to terms with what's happened."
"Good," Jay's smiled widened. "It's what you need."
"Funny how everybody seems to know what it is that I need except me," the Panther chuckled, reaching over to ruffle Jay's hair lightly. "You're a good kit, Jay."
"So how about a little celebration?" Tes's deep rumbled went strait to Doruth's cock as her hand ran up his back. "Seeing as we all got good news."
"Mmm ... and not all of us have gotten all of it yet," Doruth chuckled, looking up at the shewolf.
"I'll just stay with the fish here," Jay giggled.
"Like I said," the Panther smirked, putting an arm around Tes's waist as he got to his feet. "You're a good kit."
"Don't you dare," Tes warned Jay over her shoulder at the smirk Doruth didn't see behind his back.
"Right, right," Jay rolled his eyes. "I'll be a good kit and leave the adults to their adult games without watching."
"You'll understand why eventually, Jay," Doruth chuckled, shaking his head. "I'll be sure to stop be and say good bye before I leave for Ambria, okay?"
"I'll hunt you down if you don't." Jay promised. "Go have fun. I'll just let the fish entertain me."
"See you around, Jay," Doruth smiled, starting back for the Gurath with Tes.
"I think he's trying to make us feel guilty," she chuckled as they walked away and Jay turned his attention back to the water and lazily swimming creatures in it and felt the empty calmness that his great-grandfather had recorded of about such things.
He wasn't honestly sure how long it was before he felt a presence settle down beside him, two small white paws just inside his peripheral vision.
"*It is calming, isn't it?*" Master Essani asked him as she became aware of his shifted attention.
"Yeah," he smiled lazily up at her and was instantly struck by how incredibly snuggle-able she looked up close; so much like the giant stuffed animal he'd slept with back home.
"*A number of the students, and Masters, find this a good place to meditate,*" she observed with what he thought was a smile, her fur shifting to a light golden color. "*That's about the way it should feel, by the way. That calm that overrides everything else around you.*"
"Places like this were my great-grandfather's, and grandmother's, guilty pleasure." He relaxed that much more at her approval. "It feels really good, but nothing gets done."
"*You'd be surprised how much can get done," the kushiban observed and caught the peak in his curiosity as he focused a little more on her. "It might not be concrete, but the relaxation, the calming effects, have a very strong influence. It's a good thing,*" she said with a mental smile. "*And yes,*" she chuckled with a soft, amused squeak, "*I can be snuggly.*"
"Not something that we usually have time for." Jay admitted. "Though snuggling we usually manage," he added with a grin.
"*You'll have time for it here,*" she promised him. "*Actually, it will be a part of your studies once you learn how to focus your meditation a bit better. And snuggling's fine, at least the way you're thinking about it now,*" she offered and got a real, warm grin from him as he rolled half to his back to face her instead of the water.
"That is seriously different." He looked at her with a mixture of difficulty in comprehending that much time, and curiosity about such a teaching method that clearly produced such impressive results.
"*You have to remember, much of what we're teaching is a way of influencing the Force with the will,*" she explained, looking over at him. "*That sort of calm is good for that work. With practice, you can still do things with that type of focus... I imagine you've already experienced it, from what you've told us.*"
Jay frowned, trying to place what she was referring too. "I have?"
"*When you're working on machines, like the engines of the Gurath,*" she nodded. "*Do you actually think about what you're doing all the time?*"
"Well, no." He admitted fairly easily. "It's not how it works when you're just putting it back together. You have to let the parts tell you what they are, what they should be like, where they belong. What you're talking about it is the same kind of 'doing'?"
"*Yes,*" she nodded. "*One of my students described it as 'doing without doing,'*" she explained. "*Letting the action guide you to its completion, rather than forcing your will on it.*"
Jay let his mind mull over that for a while. "Kind of like the difference between how I get a security camera not to see me, and putting a ship back in working order?"
"*For now, yes,*" she agreed. "*With more practice, you may be able to do both without the effort. Being able to calm yourself is a part of the training, to be able to function that way even under stress.*"
"So when do I get to start learning?" He asked curiously, polite despite his eagerness.
"*I think we can get you started soon,*" Essani said, the gold color of her fur deepening as she stood. "*Unless you'd rather stay here for a while first? I wasn't planning on starting you for a day or two yet.*"
"Gold is pleased?" He smiled and curled up to his feet. "And I'd like to start now."
"*Yes Jay, it is,*" the kushiban nodded with a slight chirp. "*Follow me, I'll show you to the training center,*" she said, waiting for him to stand before she started off at an easy-to-follow trot.
A Heritage of Power 3: Jay's Story 1: Lost Kitten Found
NC-17 for Rough M/F
Het Level is Low Het Smut Level is Medium Slash Level is Femslash Level is None Herm Level is None
183 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written December 13, 2004 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann
Setting: Star Wars (Furry)
Primary Races: Kat, Panther, Wolf
Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Sex (Rough), Violence
Pairings: Doruth Parn (M Panther)/Tes Ramaris (F Wolf)
Notes: Sequel to Jessie's Story: Daughter of the Future's Past, set about 60 years and two generations later. While reading the first two stories in the series shouldn't be necessary to follow this one, it is recommended, as it'll give a lot of background and explanations to events mentioned here.
Set roughly 3000 years before the Battle of Yavin will shatter the Republic (the events of New Hope) in a universe where Furs replace most of the 'human' races but not much else has changed.
Blurb: So what does former Jedi Knight turned gambler and professional drifter do with a scraggly kitten that's too potent in the Force to leave where he is and going back to the Temple just isn't an option? And more importantly, what does he do now that this kit from another galaxy has attached himself to his life and proceeds to turn it completely upside down?
Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.
Page Hit Count from December 13, 2004